Optic Nerve Tumors

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Houston Methodist is home to board-certified doctors with years of advanced training in the management and treatment of optic nerve tumors. Our experts offer personalized care plans and the latest treatment options, from medication to minimally invasive surgery.

Tumors on the optic nerve can cause vision loss and other concerning symptoms. Most optic nerve tumors are benign, but some are malignant and can be life-threatening if left untreated. 

Understanding the symptoms, risks and treatment options for optic nerve tumors requires an experienced group of specialists working together. Houston Methodist’s team approach brings together experts with decades of knowledge in treating optic nerve tumors to ensure you receive high-quality, compassionate care for your unique condition. 

Diagnosing & Treating Optic Nerve Tumors

How are optic nerve tumors diagnosed?

Vision loss or disruption in one eye is a common first symptom of optic nerve tumor. It can start as peripheral vision loss and worsen over time. Depending on the size of your tumor, your eyeball may begin to bulge from its socket.

Diagnosis usually begins with a thorough exam and advanced imaging using MRI or a high-resolution CT scan. Because different tumors can look alike, your doctors may also recommend a biopsy so we can confirm your tumor type. 

The types of optic nerve tumors we treat include: 


  • Glioma in children – This slow-growing tumor on or around the optic nerve typically appears in early childhood and is usually benign (harmless).
  • Glioma in adults – This tumor type is rare in adults, however it’s more likely to be malignant (cancerous) in older patients. In the cases of adult-onset glioma, the cancer can spread rapidly, resulting in serious complications such as progressive vision loss in both eyes or loss of life.  
  • Meningioma  – This slow-growing tumor affects the meninges, or the thin layer of tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Meningioma is the most common type of primary brain tumor and can be cancerous or benign but is the most frequently malignant optic nerve tumor. It can spread to the optic nerve, causing vision loss and other symptoms. 
  • Melanocytoma – This type of tumor is made of melanin or melanin-producing cells and is mainly seen in older adults. It is usually benign.

What treatment options are available?

All treatment plans start with an accurate diagnosis. Once your diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor can develop a treatment plan designed to address your unique needs.

Many patients with benign tumors do not require treatment. You will likely have regular appointments with your doctor so he or she can monitor your condition and intervene if needed. If we find a large, obstructive or cancerous tumor, you may need more aggressive treatment. 

Treatment plans may include:  


I need advanced care or a second opinion.

We understand the concerns that come with the diagnosis of an optic nerve tumor. Whether you are looking for a diagnosis or a second opinion, we’re here to help. Houston Methodist’s compassionate team of tumor specialists will diagnose your condition and design a personalized treatment plan that works for you and your family. 

Learn More About Neuro-Ophthalmologic Conditions 

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Emmi, our collection of multimedia educational tools, can help you understand your condition and its treatments.

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