Optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve, which lies at the back of the eye. This nerve carries visual information from the eye to the brain. If it's inflamed, you may have blurred or double vision or even loss of vision.
What causes optic neuritis?
Your doctor may not know what caused the problem with your eye. In some cases, a virus infects the nerve. Sometimes the body's defenses (immune system) mistakenly attack the body's own cells, such as the nerves.
Many people with multiple sclerosis (MS), which is an immune system disease, have optic neuritis at some time. It can be the first symptom of MS.
What are the symptoms?
Optic neuritis may cause partial or total loss of vision, usually in one eye. You may have pain when you move your eye.
When vision loss is partial, you may have:
Loss of vision in the center of the visual field (central scotoma).
Changes in how you see color. Bright colors may look dull.
Symptoms usually get worse over a period of a few hours or a few days. Then they may not change for several weeks or months.
How is optic neuritis diagnosed?
Your doctor can find out if you have optic neuritis by doing a physical exam, including an eye exam. The doctor will also ask questions about your symptoms and past health. He or she may use eyedrops to dilate your eyes during the exam.
Imaging tests such as an MRI may help the doctor see the optic nerve and the brain. This can help the doctor find the cause of the condition.
How is it treated?
Your doctor may just want to wait and watch your symptoms because optic neuritis often improves on its own. Or you may get medicine to reduce the swelling of your optic nerve. If you have a condition like multiple sclerosis, your doctor may suggest treatment for that. In any case, your doctor will carefully keep track of your condition.
Current as of: August 31, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff Medical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine Christopher J. Rudnisky MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Christopher J. Rudnisky MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Group Universal Life (GUL) insurance plans are insured by CGLIC. Life (other than GUL), accident, critical illness, hospital indemnity, and disability plans are insured or administered by Life Insurance Company of North America, except in NY, where insured plans are offered by Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York (New York, NY). All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.
Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details