Understanding Optic Neuritis

Understanding Optic Neuritis

The causes of optic neuritis are not always clear. However, it is common amongst people who have other diseases such as neurologic or autoimmune diseases. Optic neuritis occurs when swelling or inflammation damages the optic nerve. In addition to pain, optic neuritis can lead to vision loss if it is not treated properly. Optic neuritis can be the first warning sign of various diseases as well. Many people who have optic neuritis are able to recover without vision loss. Fortunately, there are various treatments that exist for those suffering from this ailment.

The optic nerve is the nerve responsible for allowing people to see. It transmits visual information from the eye to the brain. The most common symptoms of optic neuritis are pain that gets worse with movement, vision loss that is either temporary or permanent, visual field loss, loss of color vision, or even seeing flashing lights. If you notice any of these symptoms it is important to contact your physician immediately to ensure there is no permanent damage.

Optic neuritis can be a difficult condition to deal with because the cause is unknown. In some instances, it can be categorized as a type of autoimmune disorder because it occurs when the immune system attacks the substance covering the optic nerve which leads to inflammation and damage to the myelin. The myelin insulates the optic nerve and allows for quick transmission of impulses from the eye to the brain. When a person suffers from optic neuritis, this process is halted.

There are a variety of autoimmune disorders associated with optic neuritis. One of these disorders is multiple sclerosis. Patients who have optic neuritis have an increased chance of developing multiple sclerosis later in life. Neuromyelitis Optica is another autoimmune disorder associated with optic neuritis. It causes inflammation around the optic nerve and spinal cord. While the exact cause of optic neuritis is unknown, being middle-aged, being female, being of White ethnicity, and having certain genetic mutations put some people at higher risk than others.

Left untreated, various complications can arise from optic neuritis. Some of these complications include permanent optic nerve damage, decreased visual acuity, and even side effects of various medications used to treat the condition. Currently, steroids are the only medication used to treat inflammation from optic neuritis. Steroids can have a lot of side effects and do not offer a permanent solution. Fortunately, stem cell therapy has shown a significant amount of promise in helping those suffering from optic neuritis. In addition, it comes with many fewer side effects than steroids do.

Optic neuritis is a condition that may resolve on its own, but can also lead to permanent vision loss if it is left untreated. Optic neuritis is associated with a variety of different autoimmune conditions and could be considered an autoimmune disease itself. Those who develop optic neuritis are at an increased risk for developing other autoimmune conditions later in life even if their optic neuritis goes away. Stem cell therapy is a strong contender in treatment for optic neuritis and can provide patients with a better quality of life down the road.

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