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Optic Neuritis Symptoms

An inflammation of the optic nerve is referred to as optic neuritis. In this condition, the protective layer over the nerve fibers known as myelin gets affected. This medical condition causes a great deal of discomfort as it leads to impaired vision since this nerve is responsible for sending signals from the eyes to the brain.

The main symptom of optic neuritis is a sudden impairment in normal vision. The loss of central vision could be complete or partial and is generally in just one eye.
However, both eyes could also be affected simultaneously. It usually occurs within a few hours. Some are know to experience impaired vision in a matter of just an hour. Symptoms of this condition also include sudden distorted, blurred on foggy vision. The existence of a central blind spot may also be a part and parcel of this eye disorder. Clear vision is known to be affected in this case, following an exercise schedule or a hot bath. Hampered peripheral vision and tenderness in the affected eye are also symptoms related to this condition. Movement of the affected eye is known to result in pain. Many patients affected by this condition are known to experience optic neuritis eye pain even before their vision is affected. Hence, it is not uncommon for people to mistake this condition for a simple eye-strain, at the outset, if this happens. Other symptoms linked with optic neuritis are headache, nausea and fever. With optic neuritis, the pupil always reacts differently to bright light, it dilates when light falls on the eye. A loss of color vision in the affected eye, especially the color ‘red’, leaves objects in the line of vision pretty pale and dull as compared to the unaffected eye. Some patients do not realize that they have lost color vision in the affected eye and realize this only when they cover the good eye during medical investigation.  On medical scrutiny, the optic nerve may appear swollen in some patients whereas no abnormalities may be noticed in others. Some retrobulbar optic neuritis symptoms include a swelling of the optic nerve head in addition to the aforementioned symptoms. Optic neuritis in children is an extremely rare condition and the symptoms are similar to those experienced by adults.

Optic Neuritis Treatment, Diet

Since optic neuritis has the ability to affect a normal routine as it leads to impaired vision, immediate treatment becomes imperative. Visiting an ophthalmologist is absolutely essential to ascertain the cause and treatment of optic neuritis. In some cases, recovery may take a few days without any major medical intervention, while in other cases; it may take a few months even with the use of intravenously administered corticosteroids, depending on the severity as well as cause of the condition. However, a complete optic neuritis cure may not be possible based on the severity of the condition and if the treatment is not completed as prescribed. The optic neuritis treatment trial (ONTT) is the most commonly used method of treatment for this disorder. The steroids administered intravenously do help in the quick treatment of optic neuritis and reduce the chances of multiple sclerosis by half. The treatment follows a pattern of IV steroids for a period of three days after which the steroids are administered orally for 11 days. In addition, patients who have been treated in this way also tend to have lower chances of repeated attacks. Optic neuritis diet treatment would include the consumption of foods rich in vitamin B. the consumption of soy milk and barley water on a daily basis are believed to be beneficial in the optic neuritis prevention as well as treatment. The nutrition received from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products like cottage cheese is also believed to serve this purpose.

Optic Neuritis Causes

“What is optic neuritis?” is a common query. Optic neuritis nervous disorder refers to damage to the nerves in the eyes which are responsible for our sense of sight. The optic nerve is made up of axons that emerge from the retina of the eye and carry impulses of sight to the brain. This nerve is protected by a thin membrane called the myelin. The swelling or damage to this protective cover often leads to inflammation of the optic nerve, thus resulting in impaired vision. Damage to the axons may also lead to nerve destruction. Optic neuritis mainly affects individuals between the ages of 18 and 45 years. This is a rare eye disorder and women are known to be more likely to suffer from this condition as compared to men. People suffering from multiple sclerosis are at a higher risk of suffering from optic neuritis. An autoimmune disorder, wherein the good cells are attacked by the white blood cells, may also be the cause for optic neuritis. Other conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, syphilis and Lyme disease may also be responsible for this disorder. Nutritional deficiencies as well as trauma may also lead to optic neuritis. Certain drugs may also cause nerve damage. “What is neuritis affective disorder?” is a question asked by patients opting for ONTT. The ‘term affective disorder’ is used for a condition characterized by severe mood swings. The optic neuritis treatment trial (ONTT) which is widely used has been criticized and linked with affective disorders because some of the side effects of intravenously administered methylprednisolone are depression, mood swings as well as sleep disorders.

Diagnosis of Optic Neuritis

The initial optic neuritis diagnosis is done by examining the interior of the eye with an ophthalmoscope through a simple procedure. The instrument is made up of lenses, a light source and a pierced concave mirror and it directs light that is reflected, through the pupil. Since the pupil reacts rather awkwardly to light being shone at it in the case of optic neuritis, this becomes the first step in diagnosis. A brain MRI is conducted to look for any swelling in the optic nerve. In addition, a neurological examination may be conducted to check nerve functioning. Blood tests may also be performed to check for any infection linked with optic neuritis as well as to ascertain that there is no other medical condition that could be responsible for the symptoms experienced. A chemical analysis of the blood along with a complete medical check up can result in the optic neuritis diagnosis which will show the cause of the problem.
Submitted on January 16, 2014