Optic Neuritis is inflammation and demyelination of the optic nerve. Symptoms include when vision, loss of visual acuity or sharpness, partial blindness, pain behind the eye, and changing color vision.
While there are several causes of optic neuritis, it is the single most common initial symptom of multiple sclerosis. The majority of optic neuritis cases occur in only one eye.
Optic Neuritis usually affects people between the ages of 15 and 50 years old. Within this age group, it has been shown that over half of all patients who develop optic neuritis will be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis within 15 years. Optic neuritis is more common people of European descent. Women have double the risk of men developing optic neuritis.
Loss of visual acuity affects over half of those with optic neuritis. This ranges from complete blindness to barely noticeable blurring of vision.
Eye pain is described as an overall achiness behind the eye. Some people experience a headache behind the effected eye.
Changes in color perception occur in almost all cases of ON. Most people experience this as a general dulling of the color red.
Many people experience seeing a flashing light in their peripheral vision. Many people with ON find they see better in a dimly lit room and that bright light may cause eye pain.
For about half of those with ON, symptoms get worse when they are overheated or exhausted.
Onset can last a few hours to a few days. Usually sight starts to improve after about a week. After an attack of ON, many people regain all of their vision, and even those who go totally blind may completely recover. No one can predict how much lost vision will be regained.
Approximately 1/3 of all people have a second occurrence of ON. Those who experience worsening of symptoms due to heat or exhaustion have the greatest risk of reoccurrence.
Optic Neuritis is typically treated with IV steroids such as Solu-Medrol.