Optic Neuritis (cont.)
Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS
Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is optic neuritis?
- What causes optic neuritis?
- What are symptoms of optic neuritis?
- What are signs of optic neuritis?
- How is optic neuritis diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for optic neuritis?
- What is the prognosis for optic neuritis?
- Can optic neuritis be prevented?
- Where can I find more information on optic neuritis?
- Optic Neuritis At A Glance
- Find a local Eye Doctor in your town
What is the prognosis for optic neuritis?
The prognosis depends on the underlying cause. Most episodes resolve spontaneously, with return of vision in two weeks to three months. Some people have repeat episodes of optic neuritis. Most patients with a typical history of optic neuritis and no underlying systemic disease, such as a connective tissue disease, recover vision, but more than one-quarter have a recurrence in the same eye or in the other eye. MRI is used to determine future risk of demyelinating disease.
Visual deficits caused by optic neuritis may worsen over a period of about seven days before vision typically stabilizes at that level for three to eight weeks. Gradual vision improvement then may occur. About 95% of people with optic neuritis will recover much of their vision within six months of onset. However, about 20% will have a recurrence of optic neuritis in the affected eye, and 15% will develop optic neuritis in the other eye within 10 years.
Complications arising from optic neuritis may include optic nerve damage. Most people have some permanent optic nerve damage following an episode of optic neuritis, but they may not experience any symptoms. Decreased visual acuity or vision loss may persist after optic neuritis has improved. Up to 10% of people with a history of optic neuritis have some degree of long-term vision loss. Steroid medications used to treat optic neuritis may suppress the immune system, perhaps causing the body to become more susceptible to infections. Long-term use of steroids may also cause thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) and other side effects.
Patients who have optic neuritis without a disease such as multiple sclerosis have a good chance of recovery. Optic neuritis caused by multiple sclerosis or other autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus has a poorer outlook.
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