One type of optic nerve surgery is called decompression surgery and is performed through the patient's nose, according to the American Rhinologic Society. The surgery removes a bone that presses against the nerve and interferes with the patient's vision. Another type of optic surgery is optic nerve sheath decompression.
Optic nerve surgery is performed to relieve intracranial hypertension, trauma to the optic nerve and a thyroid condition called Graves' disease, according to the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. Graves' disease can damage the optic nerve.
For decompression surgery, the patient is put under general anesthesia, according to the American Rhinologic Society. Then, the surgeon opens the sinuses that are next to the affected eye. This exposes the optic nerve and the canal through which it runs. When the surgeon has access to this area, he removes the bone over the optic canal and relieves the pressure on the optic nerve.
Optic nerve sheath decompression is performed to relieve pressure inside the skull due to a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid, according to Nature.com. During this operation, the surgeon cuts a window into the bulbous part of the sheath that covers the optic nerve. He cuts through the layers of the sheath called the dura and the arachnoid, which are described by the National Institutes of Health. This operation reduces both the swelling and the incidence of headaches in some patients, according to Nature.com. It also improved their vision.