Do you find our website user friendly?
Yes   No

Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Optic Neuritis

Optic Neuritis

Introduction 1,2

The optic nerve is a fiber-like structure connecting the eyes and visual centers in the brain. When light hits the retina the electrical signals travel through the optic nerve to the brain. This signal transmission gets interrupted by any damage that happens to the optic nerve. As the name indicates, optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve; as a result, visual information cannot be transmitted from the eyes to the brain. It often occurs in the setting of multiple sclerosis. Your vision becomes affected when visual information cannot be passed on due to inflammation. 

Optic neuritis occurs in 1 to 5 per 100,000 people. It usually affects one eye but in some circumstances can involve both. It can affect any age group. Studies have shown that the northern USA and western Europe have relatively high numbers of cases. 

Causes and Risk factors 2

The exact mechanism of optic neuritis has not been completely understood but it is believed that autoimmunity is the reason behind this. There is an outer covering around the optic nerve called the myelin sheath. It is thought that one’s immune system can damage this protective covering. People with autoimmune diseases are prone to optic neuritis. 

These are the risk factors that can lead to optic neuritis:

Signs and Symptoms of Optic Neuritis 1,3

Generally, patients with optic neuritis are young females who present with visual disturbances and pain in the affected eye. When the patient is examined thoroughly the following signs and symptoms can be noted:

Your ophthalmologist will rule out other diagnoses if a visual impairment is severe and pain is absent. 


Optic neuritis is diagnosed after thorough examination and investigations. Examination of suspected optic neuritis patients includes:

MRI of the brain is usually advised when optic neuritis is suspected. Your ophthalmologist can advise other blood tests e.g. ESR and specific antibody tests to rule out autoimmune conditions. 

If an MRI is inconclusive then Visual Evoked Potential testing may be advised. 

Treatment 3

The main goal of optic neuritis treatment is to reduce damage to vision and prevent recurrent attacks. In the initial few weeks to months, the vision may return to normal on its own but early diagnosis and treatment can speed up the recovery process. 

The ONTT (optic neuritis treatment trial) recommends the following:


To review, optic neuritis is an inflammatory condition of the eye that results in decreased vision and pain. It is more common in females and has high associations with other autoimmune diseases. Optic neuritis is a reversible condition but recovery is faster with IV and oral steroids. You should consult your ophthalmologist for early diagnosis and treatment to reduce visual impairment and pain. 


  1. Dahl, A. A., MD. (2022, August 12). Adult Optic Neuritis: Practice Essentials, Background, Etiology. Retrieved September 10, 2022, from
  2. What Is Optic Neuritis? (2022, May 6). American Academy of Ophthalmology. Retrieved September 10, 2022, from
  3. NCBI - WWW Error Blocked Diagnostic. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2022, from
Eye Surgeons Associates Drs. Zuhair H. Peracha, Manal H. Peracha-Riyaz, Eric Zuckerman, Matthew Pieters, and Leila Siblani are dedicated to excellence in eye care and service. We utilize the latest treatment methods and procedures, including routine eye care, cataract surgery, glaucoma treatment, retinal disease management, diabetic eye treatment, and eyelid surgery.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What is Keratitis?

Keratitis is the inflammation of the clear tissue on the front of the eye (cornea). It's a serious ocular disease that requires prompt treatment from an ophthalmologist. The types, symptoms, and, treatment options are listed in this months blog.

Retinal Vasculitis Explained

Retinal vasculitis is not isolated to an older age demographic. Read this months blog to find out more. The information may end up helping you or someone you care about.

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus is a non-infectious, noninflammatory condition that involves both corneas. If diagnosed early, the prognosis is good. This months informative blog contains everything you should know on the subject.

What is Uveitis?

Uveitis is an inflammatory condition that affects both men and women equally. It can present in different ways and does have possible complications. For these reasons, it is suggested that you see a specialist for diagnosis.