Anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (AION) is a relatively common cause of visual loss and results from hypoperfusion of the small arteries of the anterior portion of the optic nerve. AION is the leading cause of sudden optic nerve related vision loss with approximately 10 cases per 100'000 in the population over 50 years. To date there is no established treatment for AION and therefore a better understanding of the events occurring at the level of the optic nerve head (ONH) would be important to design future therapeutic strategies. The optical properties of the eye allow imaging of the optic nerve in vivo, which is a part of the CNS, during ischemia. Experimentally laser induced optic neuropathy (eLiON) displays similar anatomical features as anterior ischemic optic neuropathy in humans. After laser induced optic neuropathy we show that hyperreflective dots in optical coherence tomography correspond to mononuclear cells in histology. Using fluorescence-activated flow cytometry (FACS) we found these cells to peak one week after eLiON. These observations were translated to OCT findings in patients with AION, where similar dynamics of hyperreflective dots at the ONH were identified. Our data suggests that activated macrophages can be identified as hyperreflective dots in OCT.