Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy

Disease Description:

Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, also called LHON or Leber’s (LAY-bers), is a rare condition which can cause sudden, profound, painless loss of central vision. While symptoms can begin at any age and in men or women, it is most common among men around age 20. Symptoms usually begin as painless blurriness in one eye quickly progressing to severe central vision loss, typically followed within a few months by similar symptoms in the second eye.

LHON is an extremely rare genetic disorder that is passed through the egg cell of the mother. While men cannot pass LHON on to their children,  women carrying a LHON genetic mutation will pass it on to all of her children. These mutations can lead to the reduction in cellular energy production, which in turn results in cell damage and death of certain optic nerve cells. At this time, experts are unable to tell which, if any family members will develop symptoms, though on average 50% of men and 15% of women with a LHON mutation will lose vision in their lifetime.

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