Optic neuritis usually affects one eye. Symptoms might include:

  • Pain. Most people who develop optic neuritis experience eye pain that's worsened by eye movement. Sometimes the pain feels like a dull ache behind the eye.
  • Vision loss. Most people experience at least some temporary reduction in vision, but the extent of vision loss varies. Noticeable vision loss usually develops over hours or days. Exercise or a hot bath or shower may exaggerate the vision loss. Vision loss is permanent in some cases.
  • Loss of color vision. Optic neuritis often affects color perception. You might notice that colors appear less vivid than normal.
  • Flashing lights. Some people with optic neuritis report seeing flashing or flickering lights.

When to see a doctor

Eye conditions can be serious. Some can lead to permanent vision loss, and some are associated with other serious medical problems. Contact your doctor if:

  • You develop new symptoms, such as eye pain or a change in your vision.
  • Your symptoms worsen or don't improve with treatment.
  • You have unusual symptoms, including numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, which may be an indication of a neurological disorder.
Feb. 18, 2014

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