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Eye Conditions

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

Idiopathic Intracranial hypertension is a condition where the pressure of the fluid within the skull is increased. This increase in pressure in turn pushes onto the contents of the skull, including the eyes which can be seen in a dilated exam. The physician will see the area where the nerve connects to the eye as protruding forward or swollen in both eyes, thus signaling that the pressure of fluid within the skull is higher than normal. This sign is referred to as “papilledema”. This pushing on the nerve will cause blurred vision and may lead to a loss of vision.

What causes Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension?

There are a few possibilities that are thought to contribute towards developing this condition. First, is a recent onset of weight gain. Others include medications such as certain antibiotics and steroids. Biologically, having a small drainage vein for the fluid can cause the pressure to build-up.

Symptoms of Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

• Headache focused towards the back of the head
• Blurred vision/ loss of vision
• Double vision

How is it Treated?

Medication can be prescribed to decrease the amount of fluid within the skull. Multiple lumbar punctures may be done as well to help relieve the pressure that has built-up. In some cases, surgery may be warranted. This can include opening the covering of the optic nerve to allow fluid to leave. Another is that a tube can be implanted to drain fluid from the skull.

What You Can Do

There is a strong correlation between this condition and being overweight; therefore, any weight loss can help improve the symptoms dramatically. The best way to start is with a healthier diet and exercise.

Did You Know?

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension is also known as "Pseudotumor cerebri", meaning "fake tumor". This is due to the fact that a rise in the pressure in the skull mimics that of a tumor in the brain. This name has fallen out of favor since the word "tumor" is in it and can unnecessarily induce panic.


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