What is Optic Neuritis?

Optic Neuritis is one of the more common presenting symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and can cause blurred vision, color blindness, loss of vision, pain behind the eyes and even flashing/flickering lights. This usually occurs in one eye but both eyes being affected is not uncommon. Typically people just complain about their vision blurring and never experience anything else.

What Causes
Optic Neuritis?

In MS, Optic Neuritis is the result of inflammation of the optic nerve or lesions along the nerve pathway. If you have not been diagnosed with MS but think you may be experiencing Optic Neuritis, see a doctor right away as it can also be the result of an infection or another disease that affects the nerves.

How is Optic Neuritis Treated?
In MS, when Optic Neuritis flares up, usually steroids are used to resolve the issue. This is typically oral Prednisone or intravenous (IV) Methylprednisolone (Solu-Medrol). Some people cannot tolerate these steroids and may end up using injections of H.P. Acthar Gel instead. It is possible that all these medications may actually cause blurry vision themselves but even without them Optic Neuritis will eventually go away on its own once the body’s inflammation reduces. Like any other MS symptom, after a flare you never really 100% return to your baseline so over time many people with MS end up wearing glasses/contacts to correct any long-term effects to their vision.

My Experience
Personally, I have experienced many visual symptoms and though a lot of them do not have to do directly with the optic nerve, I have experienced Optic Neuritis many times since my diagnosis. I only ever really experienced a blurring of my vision and there were a few times that I saw quick flashes of light like light was reflecting off a piece of glass. Though steroids offered me temporary relief I did end up wearing glasses after just a couple years of living with MS. Like any other MS symptom there are good days and bad days and because most steroids do not really seem to help with my flare-ups anymore I usually use Acthar when things are flaring up really bad. Also, I have experienced Optic Neuritis in both one eyes at a time and both at the same time but honestly I never really felt it as any

Matt Allen G

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2010 at the age of 20. It's been a battle ever since and I have always shared my story and struggles online!

6 thoughts on “What is Optic Neuritis?

  • December 15, 2016 at 8:41 pm
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    Yeah, optic neuritis can be quite the trip. I’ve never done any hallucinogens or acid but I would think it would be like my experiences with optic neuritis. The first time I experienced ms problems with my eyes I was taking a trip on an airplane. So I’m on the plane and all of a sudden I look down at my pants and I didn’t recognize the pants I put on in the morning. I thought maybe I must have put on someone else’s pants by mistake. I thought put I on a pair of cordaroys but now I’m wearing some sort of bright green pants. I just started freaking for about a half hour. Finally I convinced myself to calm down and that there was nothing I could do about it. That was my most memorable experience with optic neuritis. I’ve also had the dimming effect when the vision brightness is reduced or another time when there was pain in my eye where it feels like someone was jabbing a needle in my eyeball. Overall though, when these events pop up I can only stop and laugh at what a strange and messed up disease MS is.

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  • December 18, 2016 at 5:52 am
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    Hey Matt,

    I love the header image that you put for this post with the gaussian blur filters real high, because that is exactly if not really close to what I remember how the optic neuritis in my right eye looked when I was diagnosed with MS in 2010. I was sitting in class one day and covered/rubbed my left eye to notice that everything I was seeing in my right eye looked about like that. After getting my vision checked (20/400 vision in my right eye according to the first person I saw), I ended up getting an MRI which showed a lesion on my optic nerve for my right eye. I went and got diagnosed with MS from there.

    After the steroid treatment, my vision in my right eye cleared up over time to where I could at least see out of my right eye. It’s not as good as my left (I’m probably left-eye dominant now), but I was able to get it checked a few months later to learn I don’t need glasses (yet), which is a relief.

    I haven’t had any new vision problems, and I don’t need glasses yet, but I feel it is only a matter of time before that changes.

    Reply
    • December 19, 2016 at 5:23 pm
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      Haha sometimes a simple Photoshop filter nails it – other times I have no idea how I can make a photo look like what I see. You reminded me of something I should have mentioned, I am DEFINITELY left eye dominent now. When I close just my right eye things look a little more fuzzy. Right eye = more clear. I forget what I am now (definitely not 20/20 even WITH glasses) but it definitely reflects what it feels like.

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      • December 20, 2016 at 4:37 am
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        Yeah, I can see how it’d be a lot harder to replicate what you’re actually seeing. Sometimes it may be a simple filter, while others will need filters with image effects / adjustment layers masked on top of other layers among other things to really convey the message. Glasses for me probably wouldn’t hurt, but I’m glad it’s not a necessity at the moment.

        When I got my vision re-checked a few months later (this was still in 2010, maybe early 2011), I was around 20/30 on my left eye and I don’t remember what my right was even though it wasn’t terrible. If I got my vision rechecked today however, I would not be surprised if the numbers were different.

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        • December 20, 2016 at 7:08 pm
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          Well a lot of MY visual issues seem to involve movement which is not easy to capture in a still image but anything relating to optic neuritis does not seem to ever be a problem portraying

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      • December 20, 2016 at 4:44 am
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        Yeah, I can see how it’d be a lot harder to replicate what you’re actually seeing. Sometimes it may be a simple filter, while others will need filters with image effects / adjustment layers masked on top of other layers among other things to really convey the message.

        Glasses for me probably wouldn’t hurt, but I’m glad it’s not a necessity at the moment. When I got my vision re-checked a few months later (this was still in 2010, maybe early 2011), I was around 20/30 on my left eye and I don’t remember what my right was even though it wasn’t terrible. If I got my vision rechecked today however, I would not be surprised if the numbers were different.

        Reply

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