Introducing: the new Center for Optic Disc Drusen at Stanford

Pictured are some of the faculty members on the ODD teams.

Optic disc drusen (ODD) are calcified deposits found at the anterior optic nerve in about 2% of the general population.  It affects both children and adults and can sometimes run in families. It is an important risk factor for optic neuropathy and vision loss. Vision loss in ODD can be progressive or sudden and irreversible, like vision loss in glaucoma and ischemic optic neuropathy, respectively.

There is urgent need to advance our understanding of ODD. Today, more than 150 years after the first description of ODD, we do not know what causes ODD or the pathophysiology of how it leads to vision loss or retinal vascular events like ischemic optic neuropathy, central retinal artery occlusion, and central retinal venous occlusion. We do not know why ODD is associated with other diseases such as retinal degeneration, elevated intracranial pressure, collagen-vascular diseases, and congenital eye and multi-system diseases.  Most importantly, there is no effective treatment for the children and adults with vision loss as a result of ODD.

A visionary donor helped us establish the Center for Optic Disc Drusen at Stanford in 2019 so we can tackle this important orphan disease. The Center directs and supports fundamental research to better understand what causes vision loss and optic neuropathy in ODD as well as to accelerate much-needed translational research to identify early biomarkers of disease and effective treatment.  Importantly, the Center will facilitate collaboration across disciplines and enable Stanford to make large advances in research, clinical care, and education.

The Center goals include:
• Understand human ODD and natural history through advanced noninvasive imaging and functional measurements invented at Stanford

• Generate the first ever animal models of ODD and investigate the pathogenesis of disease and discover effective therapeutic candidates

• Understand the genetic etiology of ODD and associated risk factors

• Promote interdisciplinary research across Stanford and the broader scientific community

• Increase awareness of ODD and screening of potentially affected patients

By establishing the first ODD research center in the world, we will increase awareness and future resources to conduct and promote research in blinding eye diseases. We will attract top talent and interest in ODD and vision research and identify and test promising therapies that can improve or preserve vision in ODD and other important optic neuropathies such as glaucoma and ischemic optic neuropathy, the most common chronic and acute optic neuropathies in the world, respectively.