The optic nerve is a cable that connects the eye to the brain. It is composed of more than one million fibers, called “axons,” each with a cover called “myelin” that helps conduct electrical signals from the eye to the brain. In optic neuritis, the optic nerve becomes inflamed and results in vision loss and eye pain that is associated with eye movements.
The inflammation in optic neuritis can be caused by an infectious, autoimmune or a demyelinating process. In addition to a complete eye examination with visual field testing and special photographs of the optic nerve, blood work and MRI of the brain and optic nerves will be obtained for further evaluation. The results of the tests will help to determine treatment. If there is no infectious process and the vision is severe, steroids can be given to the patient to help treat the inflammation.
For additional information: view PDF brochure from North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (NANOS)
This is a MRI with contrast from a patient diagnosed with right optic neuritis. The white arrow points to the normal optic nerve. The red arrow shows the affected optic nerve, which appears white.