Contact Us
Find A Doctor

Am I Going Blind? — Frank Bruni

An estimated one million Americans are legally blind, meaning that their corrected vision is no better than 20/200. A few million more have life‐altering vision impairment. Just a tiny minority of both groups were born that way. The rest lost their sight after seeing perfectly well. Frank Bruni experienced what is called “a stroke of the eye,” whereby the optic nerve is ravaged by a brief reduction of blood flow and thus, oxygen. The name for this condition is nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (N.A.I.O.N), and it afflicts perhaps one in 10,000 Americans. Rudrani Banik, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and an ophthalmologist at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, one of the neuro‐ophthalmologists who monitored Bruni during a clinical trial, told Bruni to think of the nerve and its surrounding sheath as “a cable within a pipe.” Bruni’s pipe, she explained, is a quarter 3 of the normal size, so if the nerve swells – as nerves do when bereft of oxygen – it’s more likely to press up against the pipe and be hurt. “Everything is congested,” she said. “Anatomically, we call it a disc at risk. I hate to use that term because it scares patients.”

  • Rudrani Banik, MD, Associate Professor, Ophthalmology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Ophthalmologist, The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai

Learn more