What is optic neuritis?

Optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries information from the eye to the brain. Inflammation of the optic nerve can lead to permanent vision loss.

Who gets optic neuritis?
Optic neuritis is more common in young (20-45 years old) females, but can happen to anyone at any age.
What are the symptoms of optic neuritis?
Optic neuritis generally causes sudden, painful vision loss in one eye. The pain is worse with eye movement. The vision loss is usually sudden, and worsens over 1-2 days. It can vary between looking like vision is “washed out”, to decreased contrast, to having areas of dark vision. Sometimes, a flu-like illness can precede the vision loss and eye pain.
What causes optic neuritis?
There are many causes of optic neuritis, including infection and inflammation. It is usually associated with the body’s immune system mistakenly attacking the optic nerve. In some patients, optic neuritis can be associated with multiple sclerosis.
How do you diagnose optic neuritis?
An ophthalmologist will need to do a complete dilated exam eye exam to diagnose optic neuritis. Your ophthalmologist may notice optic nerve swelling on exam. Depending on the patient’s history and presentation, more testing may need to be ordered, including a visual field exam, CT scan, MRI, and/or lumbar puncture.
How do you treat optic neuritis?
Fortunately, many people with optic neuritis can improve without any treatment. However, most patients can have faster recovery and less chance of recurrent episodes if they are treated with intravenous corticosteroids. Recovery usually begins after 1 month, but can take up to 1 year.It is essential to see an ophthalmologist immediately if you notice any signs of sudden vision loss or a loss of a portion of your peripheral vision. Early intervention can significantly improve your chances of visual recovery as well as help identify any underlying medical disorder.