Optic Neuritis

(Inflammation of Optic Nerve)


The optic nerve allows you to see by carrying images from your eye to your brain. Optic neuritis involves inflammation of the optic nerve. This may cause reduced vision or loss of vision. It is a serious condition that requires immediate care from your doctor.
The Optic Nerve
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Optic neuritis has several causes. These include:
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)—most common cause
  • Neuromyelitis optica (NMO, Devic’s disease)
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Infection
  • Exposure to toxic substances—this may be associated with optic neuropathy (injury to the optic nerve)
  • Some medications
In some, the cause of optic neuritis may be unknown.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of optic neuritis include:
  • Personal or family history of multiple sclerosis or other autoimmune disorders
  • Previous history of optic neuritis
  • Previous history of transverse myelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord)


In some people, optic neuritis may not cause any visual problems. In those that have them, optic neuritis may cause:
  • Relatively sudden decrease in vision, such as blurring, darkening, or dimming of vision
  • Loss of vision in the center of, part of, or all of the visual field
  • Abnormal color vision, such as dull and faded colors
  • Pain in or around the eye, which is often made worse with eye movement
Eye pain will often go away within a few days. Vision problems will improve in the majority of people. Some may be left with blurred, dark, dim, distorted vision, or complete visual loss. Vision usually improves over several weeks or months.

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