What is orbital/optic nerve decompression? 

If the optic nerve becomes swollen or compressed, vision can be affected. In this case, orbital or optic nerve decompression may be indicated to help relieve pressure on the optic nerve in an attempt to restore or preserve sight.


How does the procedure work?

During orbital and optic nerve decompression, your surgeon will use an endoscope and specialised instruments through the nose and sinuses to access the side of the eye and optic nerve. Your surgeon will open up the sinuses next to the eye before removing part of the bone that borders the eye and over the optic canal. The procedure works by increasing the space in the bony canal, lessening the pressure on the optic nerve.


Why is it performed?

Optic nerve decompression is usually recommended when a patient has experienced a loss of vision as a result of pressure on the optic nerve. In some cases, tumours, overgrown bones, and head injuries or inflammation of the nerve can cause this pressure. Your doctor may also recommend optic nerve decompression if the procedure is likely to prevent deterioration in vision.


How should I prepare for the procedure?

Orbital/optic nerve repair is always performed under general anaesthetic in a hospital. You will be given specific instructions before your date of surgery instructing you when to stop eating/drinking and specific medication that may be needed before or after surgery. 


What can I expect after the surgery?

A dissolvable material is placed into the nasal cavities after the surgery to help with healing and to minimise the risk of potential bleeding. There will be no bruising around the eyes. We pay very careful attention to managing your pain after the procedure. Once at home, you will be asked to gently wash out the nose with a salt-water preparation. This helps clear the nasal passages. It normally takes 1-2 weeks to fully recover from the surgery and anaesthetic.