Did you know?

Optic neuritis can be detected during an eye examination. It is important you keep up to date with your checks, we’d recommend you have one every two years.

Optic neuritis symptoms?

Optic neuritis usually develops quickly, over hours to days. The following symptoms are linked with optic neuritis:

  • Pain when you move your eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of colour vision
  • Loss peripheral vision
  • A hole in the centre of your vision
  • Headaches behind the eyes
  • Blindness, however this is rare

Some of these symptoms are associated with other, more common eye conditions. However, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms or a sudden change to your vision you should get your eyes checked as soon as possible.

Optic neuritis can occur in both adults and children. It typically affects one eye in adults but both eyes in children under 10 years old.

The majority of people recover over a period of a few weeks. In chronic cases it can take far longer to recover but rarely more than one year. In general, you’ll regain full, or nearly full, vision although problems with night vision or seeing colours washedout can persist.

Causes of optic neuritis

Our eyelids have lots of little glands that help to keep the eye moist. Sometimes bacteria normally found on the skin (staphylococcus) can find its way into one of these glands, causing an infection. A stye could also be caused by an infected eyelash follicle.

Once the myelin is inflamed it causes pain and disrupts the optic nerve’s ability to send messages from your eyes to the brain, although it’s not known why this happens.

Although rare, optic neuritis can also be caused by infections, such as:

  • Mumps
  • Measles
  • Tuberculosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Sinusitis
  • Shingles

Treatment of optic neuritis

Optic neuritis can be detected in an eye test, if your optometrist suspects you have optic neuritis, they’ll refer you to a hospital eye department where your diagnosis will be confirmed, and a treatment plan developed.


Is optic neuritis permanent?

Most people that have had optic neuritis have partial to complete vision recovery within 6-12 months.

Is optic neuritis treatable?

Most cases of optic neuritis recover without treatment. However, if the optic neuritis is caused by an underlying condition, treating that condition will often solve the optic neuritis as well.

Can an optometrist detect optic neuritis?

Yes, often signs of optic neuritis can be detected during your eye test. If your optometrist suspects optic neuritis, they will refer you to a hospital eye department to confirm the diagnosis.

How is optic neuritis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is typically based on a person’s medical history and the results of their eye test. Occasionally further investigations are required such as blood tests and MRI to confirm or rule out other causes of vision loss.