Optic neuritis is the inflammation and swelling of the optic nerve. It is also called acute demyelinating optic neuritis. The optic nerve connects the back of the eye to the brain and transmits signals allowing sight.
Its exact cause is unknown but is thought to arise from the body’s immune system attacking the nerve tissue, especially the protective myelin layer surrounding the nerves. This can be triggered by viral infections like encephalitis, mumps, measles or flu.
It is commonly the first indicator of multiple sclerosis.
Common symptoms are blurred or dim vision, loss of color vision, pain in the back of the eye or pain when the eyes move back and forth.
An ophthalmologic exam will be done of the back of the eye, along with an MRI to determine the presence of multiple sclerosis or tumor.
Treatment usually includes the administration of intravenous corticosteroids or, if a tumor is present, surgical removal.