Visual Nerve Pathway (Optical Nerve)
The optic nerve, also known as cranial nerve II, transmits visual information from the retina to the brain. Derived from the embryonic retinal ganglion cell, a diverticulum located in the diencephalon, the optic nerve does not regenerate after transection.
The optic nerve is the second of twelve paired cranial nerves but is considered to be part of the central nervous system, as it is derived from an outpouching of the diencephalon during embryonic development. As a consequence, the fibers are covered with myelin produced by oligodendrocytes, rather than Schwann cells of the peripheral nervous system, and are encased within the meninges. Peripheral neuropathies like Guillain-Barré syndrome do not affect the optic nerve.
The optic nerve is ensheathed in all three meningeal layers (dura, arachnoid, and pia mater) rather than the epineurium, perineurium, and endoneurium found in peripheral nerves. Fiber tracts of the mammalian central nervous system (as opposed to the peripheral nervous system) are incapable of regeneration, and, hence, optic nerve damage produces irreversible blindness. The fibres from the retina run along the optic nerve to nine primary visual nuclei in the brain, from which a major relay inputs into the primary visual cortex.