What are the Symptoms of Optic Neuritis and How are they Controlled?

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Optic neuritis is a condition characterized by inflamed optic nerves. This condition most often affects adults between 20 and 40 years of age. Most of the cases result from multiple sclerosis, followed by other demyelinating disease, and the patient may experience recurrences. It may also result from infectious diseases, drugs and chemicals, tumors that spread to the optic nerve, and in rare cases, pernicious anemia, bee stings, diabetes, Graves’ disease, and trauma. In some cases, the cause remains unknown or unclear. So, what are the symptoms of optic neuritis?


Approximately 53 to 88 percent of patients with optic neuritis experience some degree of eye pain. Some patients only experience pain when they move their eyes, sometimes the pain comes before visual acuity loss, sometimes a general eye ache is present, sometimes the eye pain is more of a generalized dull headache, and a headache that centers on the eye that is affected. If the pain is particularly bothersome the patient’s doctor may prescribe a pain medication or recommend a non-prescription medication for the patient. If bright light or movement is contributing to the pain, the patient may have to avoid these.

Movement and Sound Phosphenes

This symptom is characterized by experiencing visual flashing sensation when exposed to sound or moving the eyes side-to-side. The flashing sensations are most pronounced when in a room that is dimly lit. These most likely occur when nerve transmissions along visual pathways experience fluctuating interference. Avoiding the factors that trigger these will benefit the patient.

Visual Acuity Loss

This is characterized by blurry vision and about 58 percent of patients experience this symptoms. About 34 percent of patients describe the blurry vision they experience as mild, while about 12 percent report the blurriness to be moderate. Approximately 54 percent of patients report that the blurriness is either severe, or that they have lost their vision completely (complete blindness).


This symptom is characterized by decreased color vision. When asking what are the symptoms of optic neuritis, patients learn that everyone with this condition experience this symptom. Reports indicate that most patients state that the vividness of color is reduced, specifically reds. To evaluate the degree of a patient’s decreased color vision, different tests can be done, such as the Farnsworth-Munsell hue test.

Uhthoff’s Symptom

About 58 percent of patients with optic neuritis experience this symptom. It is characterized by the symptoms of this condition becoming worse with exhaustion or heat.


The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. (2010). Optic Neuritis. Retrieved on January 12, 2011 from The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec09/ch107/ch107d.html

University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. (2011). Optic Neuritis. Retrieved on January 12, 2011 from the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center: https://www.kellogg.umich.edu/patientcare/conditions/optic.neuritis.html