Eye
Orbit & optic nerve
Schnabel cavernous degeneration


Topic Completed: 1 February 2014

Minor changes: 27 June 2020

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PubMed Search: Schnabel cavernous degeneration of optic nerve

Nat Pernick, M.D.
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Cite this page: Pernick N. Schnabel cavernous degeneration. PathologyOutlines.com website. https://www.pathologyoutlines.com/topic/eyeorbitschnabel.html. Accessed September 24th, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Defined as formation of cavernous spaces in retrolaminar portion of proximal optic nerve due to focal loss of myelin and axons and accumulation of hyaluronic acid
  • Present in < 0.1% of eyes at autopsy; 80% are women, mean age 88 years (range 54 - 103 years)
  • Associated with severe vascular anomalies (75%), glaucoma (24%)
  • Grading of cavernous degeneration: I - clearly present but < 10% of diameter of optic nerve at point of most severe involvement; II - 10 - 25%; III - 50 - 75%; IV - > 75%
  • References: Arch Pathol Lab Med 2003;127:1314, Klin Monbl Augenheilkd 1990;197:162
Microscopic (histologic) images

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Fig 1: Schnabel cavernous degeneration
Fig 2: loss of axons, leading to widened pial septa and mucopolysaccharide accumulation
Fig 3: grade III cavernous degeneration involving 50 - 75% of diameter of optic nerve
Fig 4: grade IV cavernous degeneration involvement > 75% of diameter of optic nerve

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Image 01 Image 02