Optic neuritis is a condition that affects the eye and your vision. This condition occurs when your optic nerve is inflamed.
The optic nerve sends messages from your eyes to your brain so that you can interpret visual images. When the optic nerve is irritated and inflamed, it doesn't carry messages to the brain as well, and you can't see clearly.
Optic neuritis can affect your vision and cause further pain. When the nerve fibers become inflamed, the optic nerve can also start to swell. Generally swelling affects one eye, but can affect both at the same time.
Optic neuritis can affect both adults and children. The underlying cause isn't completely understood, but experts believe that a viral infection may trigger the immune system to attack the optic nerve as if it were a foreign invader.
What causes optic neuritis?
The cause of optic neuritis is not always clear. It can be caused by an infection however, it is a common condition among those who have multiple sclerosis (MS), a progressive, neurologic disorder.
About 50% of people who have multiple sclerosis (MS) will develop optic neuritis. It's often the first sign of multiple sclerosis (MS).
What are the symptoms of optic neuritis?
The following visual problems are common with optic neuritis:
- Diminished vision
- Unable to distinguish colors, or notice that colors aren't as vibrant as usual
- Blurred Vision
- Unable to see out of one eye
- Abnormal reaction of the pupil when exposed to bright light
- Pain in the eye, especially when you move it
The symptoms of optic neuritis can differentiate widely in severity. More extensive optic nerve inflammation leads to more noticeable symptoms.
Just because you have major symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that optic neuritis will never go away. Moreover, not everyone who is suffering from optic neuritis has problems with the vision.
It is quite possible for the optic nerve to get inflamed without affecting vision. A careful, medical evaluation of the eye can generally pinpoint optic neuritis even if you don’t have symptoms.
How is optic neuritis treated?
In some cases, you may not need any sort of treatment for optic neuritis. After a few weeks, it can go away on its own and your vision will return to normal. This is more likely done if you don’t have another health condition that has triggered the optic neuritis.
Sometimes your doctor may recommend a brief course of steroids, usually injected into your vein, to help your vision improve more quickly and minimize inflammation and swelling.