Optic neuritis refers to swelling or inflammation of the optic nerve. It is often associated with diseases causing demyelination (a loss of the protective myelin layer of the the nerve) of the optic nerve, but sometimes the cause is unknown. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the disease most often associated with optic neuritis. It is not uncommon to have an episode of optic neuritis prior to being diagnosed with MS. In fact, optic neuritis is often the initial sign of MS.
Most patients with optic neuritis experience a sudden onset of decreased vision along with pain and soreness when moving the eye. Optic neuritis usually affects only one eye and may be a recurring problem with certain diseases such as MS.
Signs and Symptoms
The following symptoms of optic neuritis may not occur in all cases; however, they are the most common problems associated with the condition.
- Pain with eye movement (more than 90% of patients)
- Tender, sore eye
- Mild to severe decrease in central vision
- Dull, dim vision
- Reduced color perception
- Decreased peripheral vision
- Central blind spot
- Decreased vision following exercise, hot bath or shower (activities that elevate body temperature)