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Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension


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Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) is caused by increased intracranial pressure (pressure inside the head) causing optic nerve swelling (papilledema). If you have a severe case of IIH that goes untreated, you may suffer permanent loss of your vision. This condition affects mostly younger overweight women, and rarely occurs in men.

Symptoms of the condition includes:

  • Headache
  • Pulsing noise in the ear
  • Momentary blurring of vision
  • Loss of vision – starting with the peripheral vision, then rapidly affecting central vision


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - Your doctor will order a brain MRI with contrast and an MRI venogram to rule out tumors and other structural abnormalities – such as a vein clot – as these can cause similar symptoms.

Spinal tap (lumbar puncture) - Your doctor will order a spinal tap (also called a lumbar puncture) to assess the pressure around the head. This procedure is performed with a local numbing shot.

Visual field - A visual field test assesses both central and peripheral vision.

Optical coherence tomography - The test measures the thickness of the cell layers that make up the optic nerves to assess optic nerve damage.

Optic nerve photos - The test documents the amount of optic nerve swelling.


Weight loss - In most cases, losing 6 percent or more of your body weight causes this condition to resolve on its own.

Medication - Medications including acetazolamide, topiramate, and furosemide can decrease the intracranial pressure and relieve your symptoms.

Surgery - Optic nerve sheath fenestration is a procedure in which a specialized ophthalmologist creates an opening in the lining of the optic nerve to release pressure. Ventriculoperitoneal shunt procedures are performed by neurosurgeons so the extra fluid around the brain can drain into the abdomen, where the body will absorb it.

Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?

Ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, is the country’s top facility for the treatment of eye diseases and disorders, according to U.S. News & World Report. Choosing our facility means receiving outstanding and compassionate care.

Trusted physicians. Doctors travel from around the world to train with us – they appreciate our groundbreaking research and impact on eye care. As our patient, you gain from our knowledge, developed over 50+ years of caring for patients. All of our doctors are board-certified or board-eligible ophthalmologists.

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