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The optic papilla (‘inny’ or ‘outy’) and the origins of papilloedema
  1. Luke Bennetto1,
  2. Gordon T Plant2
  1. 1Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2UCL Institute of Neurology, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Luke Bennetto, Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK; Luke.Bennetto{at}

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Papilloedema describes swelling of the optic papilla (also known as the ‘optic nerve head’ or ‘optic disc’) due to raised intracranial pressure. The term was introduced by J. Herbert Parsons1 in 1908 in an attempt to clarify the distinction between the terms then in use, such as ‘choked disc’ and ‘papillitis’. We would like to point out that ‘papilloedema’ is a tautological curiosity as a result of an anomaly surrounding the term ‘papilla’ introduced by William Briggs (1650–1704)—an early pioneer of visual science and ophthalmology who counted Isaac Newton amongst his associates.

Briggs introduced the term ‘optic papilla’ in his book Ophthalmographia,2 which was published in 1676. The Latin …

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  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • This paper was reviewed by Mark Lawden, Leicester, UK.

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