Optic Neuritis involves inflammation of the optic nerve, the bundle of nerve fibers that transfers visual information from the eyes to the brain. Unilateral involvement of one eye generally occurs, but in some circumstances both eyes can be affected. Optic Neuritis can occur by itself, but is frequently associated with Multiple Sclerosis, Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (“ADEM”) or Neuromyelitis Optica. The most common complaints associated with optic neuritis include pain, temporary or permanent visual loss, loss of color vision and flickering or flashing lights.
The causes of optic neuritis are unknown. However, it is believed that the disorder occurs as a result of an immune mediated attack on the myelin sheath covering the optic nerve that leads to inflammation and damage of the nerve sheath. Frequently seen in autoimmune conditions such as MS, ADEM and NMO, infections and certain drugs have also been implicated in the development of optic neuritis. Treatment if necessary, is centered around reducing inflammation and the residua associated with uncontrolled inflammation.