Symptoms, Causes, Treatments of Optic Neuritis

There is a connection between the eye and brain which is the optic nerve, it processes and transmits the visual information. If inflammation occurs in the optic nerve it is called optic neuritis.

During inflammation, it damages the protective sheath that surrounds the nerve or known as the myelin or the nerve itself. At the same time, it can affect one or both optic nerves.

Optic neuritis displays vision symptoms such as blurring, blind spots, or complete loss of vision. When you move one or both eyes, you may experience distorted vision and reduced color vision or pain.

Optic neuropathy describes that there is an abnormality or damage in the optic nerve. It can be from medical conditions, toxic exposure, or blocked blood flow. Optic neuritis is one of the named causes of optic neuropathy.

Optic Neuritis

Causes of Optic Neuritis

This eye condition can occur to everyone but it is much more common in adults that are below 45. It also affects more women than men. It is also common in individuals who have multiple sclerosis (MS) because the protective nerve coverings are being damaged when their immune system attacks itself.

When nerve damage occurs in MS, it can affect eyesight and lead to loss of mobility and sensory functions.

These are the other causes of optic neuritis:

  • Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder
  • Anti-MOG Ab associated Syndrome
  • Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis

These are the causes of optic neuropathy:

  • Toxoplasmosis, cryptococcus, herpes simplex, and other infections
  • Viral infections
  • Neurological disorders
  • Leber hereditary optic neuropathy is an inherited vision loss that affects 20 or 30 years old males
  • Certain medications such as ethambutol and vigabatrin
  • Nutrition deficient
  • Toxins including methanol, alcohol, and tobacco

When you have optic neuritis, afferent pupillary defect – when the pupil dilates in presence of bright light instead of constriction occurs. The optic nerve may look normal or swollen which depends on the severity of the optic nerve.

An MRI is needed for individuals who have optic neuritis to detect the causes of inflammation or any CNS lesions.

Optic Neuritis

Treatments for People With Optic Neuritis

With numerous studies, the treatment for optic neuritis has changed. Optic Neuritis Treatment Trials (ONTT) uses different treatments such as intravenous (IV) steroids, oral steroids, or placebo and evaluated afterward.

With the results of ONTT, the treatment is a combination of IV and oral steroids but the usage of a low dose for steroids is not recommended.

Plasmaexchange (PLEX) is also offered as a treatment that cleans immune system components which promotes inflammation.

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