ABOUT OPTIC NEURITIS
The optic nerve plays an important role in an individual’s vision. It is the bundle of nerves that go from the retina to the brain translating signals to relay visual information. When the optic nerve becomes inflamed, eye pain, vision loss, and a decrease in color perception can result. Ocular inflammation is known as optic neuritis and is often a precursor of chronic illness, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), although it can also occur for other reasons as well. Ocala, FL board-certified retina surgeon, Dr. Shalesh Kaushal, treats optic neuritis, which in many cases can correct itself, but there are treatments available for patients with progressive symptoms.
OPTIC NEURITIS CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS
While the exact cause for optic neuritis is unknown, it can signify that an underlying illness is present. Specifically, MS can result from damage and inflammation to the nerves of both the spinal cord and brain, ultimately affecting vision. Research has uncovered that ocular inflammation can occur when the immune system is disrupted and targets the myelin, or covering, of the optic nerve. Because MS involves the immune system and attacks the myelin sheath, it has been shown to be a risk factor for developing optic neuritis. Therefore, multiple sclerosis is one of the more common chronic conditions found upon a routine eye examination. Other conditions and factors that can cause optic neuritis include sarcoidosis, systemic lupus, bacterial infections such as the mumps, herpes, syphilis, neuromyelitis, and certain drugs and medications.
Patients experiencing mild to severe eye pain, the appearance of flashing lights, vision loss of any kind, and a decrease in color perception should seek immediate treatment. Dr. Kaushal offers in-depth eye exams and works with each patient to uncover the cause, diagnosis, and the necessary course of treatment.
OPTIC NEURITIS DIAGNOSIS
A comprehensive eye exam performed by Dr. Kaushal can diagnose optic neuritis. Dr. Kaushal will ask about your medical history, check your visual acuity, color perception, and any pain or vision loss associated with your symptoms. If it is believed that optic neuritis could be a potential diagnosis, Dr. Kaushal will pay special attention to the optic disk to assess inflammation and any swelling in the area. In addition, a pupillary light reaction test may also be incorporated during the eye exam to check the pupils and assess how they react to bright light when a flashlight is placed in front of the eyes. Patients who have not been diagnosed with MS but are at higher risk for the disease may be required to undergo an MRI. This allows Dr. Kaushal to get a visual scan of the optic nerve and brain. It can also check for the presence of brain lesions or other abnormalities. Blood tests may also be performed to check the blood for certain antibodies.
OPTIC NEURITIS TREATMENT AND PROGNOSIS
The treatment for optic neuritis will vary depending on the progression of the disease. Dr. Kaushal may give the patient an intravenous steroid medication to help reduce inflammation of the optic nerve. Early intervention with the use of a steroid medication has proven to show a reduction in the risk of developing MS. Plasma exchange therapy may also be considered to help recover vision. The good news is that in many cases, optic neuritis resolves itself and for the most part does not require additional treatment. It should be noted that patients who have had optic neuritis may have a higher chance of developing MS; likewise, patients with MS have a higher risk of having this eye condition in the future, which makes eye exams critical. Dr. Kaushal will continue to work with patients diagnosed with this retinal disorder to help put a treatment plan in place to best prevent and treat optic neuritis.
TREAT OPTIC NEURITIS
Dr. Shalesh Kaushal is a retina specialist serving all of Ocala, The Villages, and the surrounding areas in Florida. Our patients come from near and far to receive unique, specialized diagnostics and treatment for their eye conditions. Patients diagnosed with optic neuritis receive compassionate, ongoing care so that their vision is protected and any underlying medical condition can be monitored. We invite you to call Comprehensive Retina Consultants to schedule your consultation and eye exam today.