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Weight gain and optic nerves

How does weight affect the optic nerves? I was recently told by an ophthalmologist that I have swollen optic nerves which will cause me to go blind if I don't do something. She said the swelling was most likely caused by weight gain. It's true that over the course of 13 years or so I've put on more than 30 lbs due to medication side effects, though I've been hovering in the same weight area for the last few years. But she didn't explain how this weight gain caused the swelling, nor how losing 20 lbs will help. I didn't get much of a chance to ask because she seemed in a hurry to be done with me and just left me with 'get an MRI and start a diet'. I don't understand the reasoning because it seems like more people would be going blind from gaining a lot of weight. Can anyone explain this?
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Answers (2)

  • gary


    Hi, the optic nerve is the nerve that transmits visual information from the retina to the brain.Papilledema describes optic nerve swelling due to increased intracranial pressure, which means the pressure inside your skull is abnormally elevated. It can be caused by a tumor, a disorder in the absorption of spinal fluid by the body or benign idiopathic intracranial hypertension. Idiopathic intracranial hypertension means there is no tumor or other disorder, but the intracranial pressure is still high. It is most commonly seen in women of childbearing age who are markedly overweight. Primary symptoms of papilledema include headaches, blurry vision, nausea, pulsating sounds in the ears and dizziness.
  • Kelsie Gardner


    I don't know what's considered childbearing age, but I'm 28, and I wouldn't call myself 'markedly overweight'. I've got a little extra meat in the mid-section, but to look at me with clothes on you wouldn't be able to tell. I do have somewhat frequent headaches, which may be from sinus, blurry vision from possibly fatigue as well as astigmatism/near sightedness, and I have tinnitus from hearing gunshots at close range, so my ears are permanently ringing. In short, what should be telling symptoms of something are obscured by things that are already common for me. Complications are pretty standard in just about everything in our family. An MRI and spinal tap will clear things up though, correct?