What is LHON?

Male, close up of eyes

LHON, or Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy, was first defined as a condition in 1871 by the German ophthalmologist, Theodor Leber (pronounced LAY-ber). It is the most common of a number of conditions called inherited mitochondrial diseases. LHON is a mitochondrial disease that affects cells in the part of your eye called the retina and the nerve that connects your brain to your eyes (the optic nerve). These cells are called retinal ganglion cells. Damage to these cells causes loss of vision.

Some other names that have been used for LHON include: Leber’s optic atrophy; Leber’s hereditary optic atrophy; optic atrophy; Leber’s optic neuropathy; and hereditary optic neuroretinopathy.