Optic neuritis (inflammation of optic nerve)

Eyes | Ophthalmology | Optic neuritis (inflammation of optic nerve) (Disease)


Optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve) is an inflammation, with accompanying demyelination, of the optic nerve (cranial nerve II) serving the retina of the eye.

It is a variable condition and can present with any of the following symptoms: blurring of vision, loss of visual acuity, loss of some or all colour vision, complete or partial blindness and pain behind the eye. It’s one of the most frequently presenting symptoms of multiple sclerosis, although there are other causes.

Major symptoms are sudden loss of vision (partial or complete), or sudden blurred or foggy vision, and pain on movement of the affected eye. The vision might also look disturbed/blackened rather than blurry, like when feeling dizzy. Many patients with optic neuritis may lose some of their color vision in the affected eye (especially red), with colors appearing subtly washed out compared to the other eye. In most cases, visual functions return to near normal within eight to ten weeks, but they may also advance to a complete and permanent state of visual loss.

Causes and Risk factors

Optic neuritis can occur in children or adults and may involve either one or both optic nerves. Optic neuritis typically affects young adults ranging from 18-45 years of age, with a mean age of 30-35 years. There is a strong female predominance.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The systemic intravenous treatment with corticosteroids, which may quicken the healing of the optic nerve, is often recommended, but it does not have a significant effect on the visual acuity. ...