What is Optic Neuritis?
Optic neuritis is a condition caused by swelling or inflammation that damages the optic nerve, which is the nerve system that transmits visual information from your eye to your brain.
Common symptoms of optic neuritis may include pain with eye movement and temporary vision loss in one eye. Symptoms of optic neuritis indicate that a person has multiple sclerosis, which is a disease that causes inflammation and damage to the nerves in the brain and optic nerve.
Apart from multiple sclerosis, optic neuritis can be triggered by other conditions, such as infection or autoimmune diseases like lupus. Optic neuritis (neuromyelitis optica) rarely causes inflammation in the optic nerve and spinal cord.
In many cases, people who experience one episode of optic neuritis can recover without treatment. In some cases, steroid medications can speed up recovery from optic neuritis. Contact an ophthalmologist through Smarter Health to get the right treatment.
Causes of Optic Neuritis
The exact cause of optic neuritis is still unknown. It is suspected that this condition occurs when something is wrong in your immune system. Your immune system attacks the myelin sheath that covers and protects the optic nerve. The inflamed myelin sheath causes pain, so it cannot carry messages from your eye to your brain.
Optic neuritis is closely related to multiple sclerosis – since about half of multiple sclerosis patients also suffer from optic neuritis. Other causes of optic neuritis include:
- Bacterial infections such as Lyme disease.
- Viral infections such as measles and goiters
- Treatment, including quinine and some antibiotics.
- Autoimmune diseases such as sarcoidosis, lupus, and optica neuromyelitis.
When to See a Doctor for Optic Neuritis
Your ophthalmologist will examine your eye thoroughly and perform a series of examinations, including:
- Check if there’s inflammation by looking into your eye with an ophthalmoscope.
- Check how your eyes respond to light.
- Perform a vision test of your peripheral nervous system (peripheral nerves).
- Check how well your eyes perceive colors.
Your doctor may also recommend certain tests to show you a detailed picture of your visual system. Possible tests may include CT scan, MRI, or visual recording of brain waves to show how your brain processes visual information.
Symptoms of Optic Neuritis
Adults usually develop optic neuritis in one eye, but children may develop the condition in both eyes. The symptoms of optic neuritis may appear quickly- between hours or days. Symptoms that may arise include:
- Blurred vision.
- Side vision loss.
- Eye pain due to eye movement
- Possible vision loss
- Loss of color vision
- Dull ache behind your eyes.
- Flashing lights
Some people recover quickly within a few weeks, even without treatment. Others can take up to a year or never fully recover. Even when other symptoms disappear, they may still have night vision problems or have decreased ability to see colors.
If you have multiple sclerosis, heat can trigger symptoms of optic neuritis to recur – such as after taking a warm shower, doing exercise, having fever, or flu. Symptoms may disappear as soon as you recover.
Treatment for Optic Neuritis
Patients with optic neuritis can usually get better on their own. In some cases, steroid medications are used to reduce inflammation of the optic nerve. Side effects of such medications may include mood swings, weight gain, red rashes, stomachache, and insomnia.
Steroid medications are usually given intravenously. Intravenous steroid therapy can speed up your vision recovery, but it does not affect the amount of vision recovered for typical optic neuritis.
When steroid therapy fails and your vision worsens, plasma exchange therapy may be an option to restore your vision. However, it is not sure if plasma exchange therapy is effective for treating optic neuritis.
Preventing Multiple Sclerosis
If you have optic neuritis and have two or more brain lesions that are visible on the MRI, you may be given medications such as interferon beta-1a or interferon beta-1b, which can delay or help prevent multiple sclerosis. This type of medication can be used for people who are at high risk of developing multiple sclerosis. Possible side effects include depression, irritation at the injection site, and flu-like symptoms.
However, for people who have multiple sclerosis or other conditions, this treatment is usually unable to restore vision to normal.
Most people regain normal vision within 6 months after an episode of optic neuritis. People who experience relapses are at higher risk of multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica or disorders related to MOG antibodies.
Optic neuritis can recur in people without an underlying condition and generally have a better long-term prognosis for their vision than people with multiple sclerosis or neuromyelitis optica.
Treatment Cost for Optic Neuritis
Treatment cost for optic neuritis varies greatly, depending on the type of treatment recommended by your doctor and your choice of hospital.
To calculate the estimated treatment cost for optic neuritis at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Optic Neuritis
Optic neuritis can occur in both children and adults. However, adults usually develop optic neuritis in only one eye, whereas children tend to develop it in both.
Symptoms of optic neuritis usually appear quickly. To prevent optic neuritis, you are recommended to adopt a healthy lifestyle, including eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Contact an ophthalmologist immediately if you have symptoms of optic neuritis.
Home Remedies for Optic Neuritis
Below are some foods believed to be the natural remedies for treating optic neuritis:
- Apple. Eating an apple a day can rejuvenate swollen nerves.
- Pineapple. Pineapple contains certain essential acids which are a powerful treatment for optic neuritis. You can eat pineapple or drink its juice to help overcome your vision problems.
- Barley brew. Boil ¼ cup of Barley pearls in ½ cup of water until it boils and the water is reduced by about ¼. After that, strain and separate the drink. Add ½ cup of lime juice and 1/2 cup of buttermilk to the mixture to increase its effectiveness.
- Carrot juice. Drinking ½ litre of carrot and spinach juice may sound very simple, but it is effective to treat optic neuritis.
- Soy milk. Mix 1 cup soy milk with 1 tbsp. Consume this regularly before going to bed at night.
- Yogurt. The content of vitamin B1 and vitamin B12 is produced with the help of certain bacteria and yogurt has an important role in the production of these bacteria in the intestine. Vitamin B1 and vitamin B12 are effective for treating optic neuritis.
Have more questions about optic neuritis? Write them down in the comment section below or contact an ophthalmologist at home and abroad through Smarter Health for the right treatment and treatment of optic neuritis.