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:
Feb. 18, 2014
- 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.
- Osborne B, et al. Optic neuritis: Pathophysiology, clinical features, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 9, 2013.
- Osborne B, et al. Optic neuritis: Prognosis and treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 9, 2013.
- Riordan-Eva P, et al. Vaughan & Asbury's General Ophthalmology. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=720. Accessed Sept. 9, 2013.
- Pau D, et al. Optic neuritis. Eye. 2011;25:833.
- Optic neuritis. The Transverse Myelitis Association. http://myelitis.org/symptoms-conditions/optic-neuritis/. Accessed Sept. 9, 2013.
- Osborne BJ, et al. Optic neuritis and the risk of MS: Differential diagnosis and management. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2009;76:181.
- Aminoff MJ, et al. Clinical Neurology. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=66. Accessed Sept. 9, 2013.