There is inflammation of the optic nerve. It can cause vision loss when you move your eyes. Symptoms will usually get better when the inflammation goes away.
The optic nerve carries visual information from your eye to your brain. ON is when your optic nerve becomes inflamed.
The inflammation can cause vision loss in one or both eyes. This is usually a temporary loss of vision. You may feel pain when you move your eyes.
An illness or nerve condition can cause ON to flare up. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve your outcome. Your vision will return as you recover from the inflammation.
It is important to get your vision checked out whenever you notice a change.
Emergency treatment can be needed for eye problems. Reasons to seek emergency care.
- There is severe eye pain.
- There is a sudden loss of vision.
- sudden changes to your vision, such as blurry vision
If your vision changes are accompanied by symptoms of stroke, such as facial drooping, difficulty speaking, or severe headache, get emergency help right away. Call your local emergency services or have someone help you get to the nearest emergency room.
There are many possible causes of ON. Idiopathic cases are those that have no known cause.
Multiple sclerosis and other nerve conditions
Other nerve conditions can cause ON.
- myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody disease, a condition that causes nervous system inflammation
- Schilder’s disease, a long-term (chronic) demyelinating condition that begins in childhood
- neuromyelitis optica (NMO) spectrum disorder, a rare condition that can cause inflammation of the optic nerve
ON can also be caused by autoimmune conditions, such as:
- sarcoidosis, a condition that causes inflammation in various organs and tissues
- Sjögren’s syndrome, a disorder that typically affects tear and saliva glands
- systemic lupus erythematosus, a long-term condition that can affect different organ systems
- glial fibrillary acidicglobulin G disease is a rare condition.
Infections and other causes
Infections that can cause ON include:
- There are shingles.
- There is a disease called syphilis.
- cat scratch fever (Bartonella)
- There is a disease called lyme disease.
- It is a sexually transmitted disease.
- The person is HIV
- The West Nile virus can be fatal.
- encephalitis is a disease.
- There is a disease called meningitis.
Other possible causes include:
- Certain drugs.
- Exposure to toxic substances.
- alcohol or tobacco use
- There are certain nutrition deficiencies.
The symptoms of ON can be different depending on what is causing it.
- Vision loss in one eye can be mild to severe.
- Eye movements can make periocular pain worse.
- “It’s the inability to see colors correctly.”
Other possible symptoms can include:
- The way the eye looks at light changes.
- photopsia, seeing flashing lights or floaters in one or both eyes
- Uhthoff’s phenomenon, or Uhthoff’s sign, which is when vision worsens with an increase in body temperature
When ON only affects one eye, it is called unilateral ON. Unilateral ON is more common. It is possible for ON to affect both eyes. This is called bilateral ON.
Conditions other than ON can cause symptoms. These include:
- “Ischemia is when your brain doesn’t get enough blood.”
- Leber hereditary optic neuropathy is a type of vision loss that is passed down in families.
A doctor can help determine if you have ON or another condition by assessing your symptoms and using tests.
Factors that increase the chance of developing ON
- Being older than 40 years old.
- Being assigned female at birth.
- Someone has a diagnosis of Multiplesclerosis.
People who live in the northern United States and western Europe may be at higher risk of developing the disease.
The doctor will usually begin by asking about your symptoms and medical history. They will perform a physical exam. The doctor may perform additional tests to determine the cause of your ON.
Tests for ON can include blood tests or a cerebrospinal fluid analysis.
The doctor may request tests such as:
- A scanning called an optical coherence tomography scans the nerves in your eye.
- an MRI scan, which uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create a detailed image of your brain or other parts of your body
- a CT scan, which creates a cross-sectional X-ray image
In most cases, you can use a steroid to reduce inflammation.
Steroid medication may be taken orally, injected, or administered intravenously. These medications typically come with some side effects, so be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist to learn what to expect.
If your ON is the result of another condition, you should treat it. If a doctor thinks a bacterial infection is causing ON, they may prescribe antibiotics.
Treatments can include what is causing your ON.
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone is a hormone.
- Ig is a form of immunoglobulin.
- The exchange of blood.
- The injections of interferon.
In many cases, the symptoms of ON are temporary, even if you experience vision loss. Most people will not have permanent vision loss after the ON episode is over. It can take weeks to months for your vision to recover.
Sometimes ON can lead to problems. It is less common but can cause long-term vision loss.
The eye is part of your body. You should always see a doctor for vision changes. Vision loss can be treated before it becomes irreversible.