Key Points about Orbital and Optic Nerve Meningiomas
- Orbital and optic nerve meningioma is a tumor that runs from the brain to behind the eye.
- Doctors use imaging tests, angiography and vision exams to diagnose this type of meningioma.
- Treatment for orbital and optic nerve meningioma may include watchful waiting, surgery and radiation therapy.
A meningioma is a primary central nervous system (CNS) tumor that begins in the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. An orbital and optic nerve meningioma extends from the brain into the orbit (behind the eye). They can cause bulging of the eye or vision loss.
Orbital and optic nerve meningiomas causes
This condition is caused by mutations (changes) in the DNA of the supportive tissue of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord.
Orbital and optic nerve meningiomas risk factors
The following factors may increase your risk for developing orbital and optic nerve meningioma:
- Being between the age of 40 and 50
- Being female
- Being obese
- Having neurofibromatosis 2, a rare inherited nervous system disorder
- Having undergone radiation therapy to the head
Orbital and optic nerve meningiomas symptoms
Signs and symptoms of this condition can include:
- Abnormal vessels on the optic nerve (seen during a vision exam)
- Bulging of the eye
- Decreased vision
- Enlarged blood vessels, known as optociliary shunt vessels
Orbital and optic nerve meningiomas diagnosis
Your oncologist may use one or more of the following tests to diagnose this condition:
- Vision exam – your doctor will perform a complete vision exam, including asking questions about your health history, symptoms and related risk factors.
- Angiography – this imaging test of the optic nerve helps your doctor determine if you have abnormal blood vessels that are a sign of orbital and optic nerve meningioma.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan – this type of imaging test provides a 3D image of the inside of the body that your doctor can use to determine the size and location of the meningioma.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – this type of imaging test uses high-powered magnets to create detailed images of the inside of your body. Your doctor can closely examine these images to determine the size and location of the meningioma.
Orbital and optic nerve meningiomas treatments
Depending on your personal health history, the extent of the cancer and other factors, your oncologist may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:
- Ongoing monitoring – if your meningioma is slow-growing, your doctor may recommend ongoing monitoring. During this time, you will see your doctor for regular appointments and imaging tests.
- Surgery – you may need to undergo surgery to remove the cancerous area. Your surgeon will work to preserve as much surrounding healthy tissue as possible.
- Radiation therapy – this treatment uses high-powered energy beams to destroy cancerous cells. You may need to undergo radiation therapy to destroy any cancerous cells that couldn’t be removed surgically.
When should I seek care?
If you experience any of these symptoms, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. Your doctor may suggest seeing an oncologist for more specialized treatment.