Optic Neuritis

What is Optic Neuritis?

Optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve that damages the myelin covering surrounding the nerve, often resulting in dim, blurry vision in one eye. When that coating is damaged, the optic nerve can’t send the right signal to the brain. Because it is such a strong indicator of multiple sclerosis, your UTHealth neuro-ophthalmologists may want to conduct additional testing to check for MS or other underlying conditions. While the symptoms feel scary, most patients make a full recovery.

What you can expect at the Robert Cizik Eye Clinic

The Cizik Eye Clinic opened in 2007 and is housed in Memorial Hermann Plaza at 6400 Fannin Street. It includes dozens of exam areas, multiple operating rooms, and laser suites equipped with the most sophisticated equipment available for patient care.

People travel from across the country and the world for treatment at the Cizik Eye Clinic, in part because our affiliation with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth provides unmatched resources and expertise. Our friendly staff works diligently to make your visit pleasant and efficient, as we maximize patient flow through everything from routine eye exams to the most advanced eye surgeries.

Our physicians are faculty members at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and are board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology or are board eligible. At the Cizik Eye Clinic, we understand that the eye is a small part of a whole patient who deserves top-notch, comprehensive care in a cutting-edge facility.

Causes of Optic Neuritis

The cause of optic neuritis is often unknown, but it can be triggered by an autoimmune reaction, meaning your body mistakenly attacks the optic nerve. In other cases, an infection or disease, such as multiple sclerosis, can cause the condition. If you have had an episode of optic neuritis, your doctor will likely order an MRI to look for signs of multiple sclerosis, as optic neuritis is often the first symptom. Other causes could include diabetes, lupus, measles, mumps, tuberculosis, Lyme disease, tuberculosis, encephalitis, or meningitis. Neuromyelitis optica and myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody disorder might also be causes.

White females between the ages of 18 and 45 are more likely to suffer from optic neuritis. People who live at high altitudes are also more likely to experience an episode.

Symptoms of Optic Neuritis

Sudden decreased vision, over just a few days, is the most noticeable symptom of optic neuritis. Vision may be dark or blurred with decreased peripheral vision. Patients may also experience headaches or eye pain when they look in different directions. Decreased color vision and the appearance of sparks or flashes of light are also common symptoms of optic neuritis.

Diagnosis of Optic Neuritis

Your doctor will conduct a full vision exam and take your medical history. A blood test can also check for higher protein levels. Because optic neuritis can resemble other conditions, your UTHealth neuro-ophthalmologists may use an optical coherence tomography or MRI to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Optic Neuritis

In many cases, optic neuritis can heal on its own, and treatment is not needed. When a patient also presents an abnormal MRI or has severe symptoms, a three-day treatment of intravenous steroids, followed by a course of oral steroids, may be prescribed. Steroids have several adverse side effects, including weight gain and increased blood pressure, so they may not be safe for all patients. The majority of patients recover near their full vision, and about 35% of patients will go on to have another occurrence. Your doctor will monitor your vision closely.

Contact Us

At Robert Cizik Eye Clinic, we offer patients access to highly specialized eye and vision care. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-9400, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.