If I Have a Large Optic Nerve Cup, Does That Mean I Have Glaucoma?

medical photo of eye retina and optic nerve showing cupped disc

The second most significant risk factor for the development of chronic open-angle glaucoma is the size of the central cup “cupping” of the optic nerve head. (The most important risk factor for glaucoma is high intraocular pressure, or IOP).

The cupping of the optic nerve means the size of the depression in the middle of the nerve when viewed from the front of the eye. When there is damage to the optic nerve, the cupping increases. When a person is shown to have large optic nerve cups, it could be an indicator of damage unless it can be determined that the cup size is considered normal for that individual.

Through periodic photographs of the optic nerve, the ratio of the cup to the disc can be monitored. This helps your eye doctor determine a baseline and to see whether or not damage is still occurring to the nerve fibers with current treatment and/or if treatment should be modified.

Ultimately, it is through a combination of eye exams and observations that your eye doctor will determine whether you have glaucoma.

Read more about optic nerve cupping.

Read more about diagnostic exams for glaucoma.



Reviewed on April 18, 2022