Optic Neuritis

Myelin becomes damaged in optic neuritis and affects vision by slowing signal transmission to the brain.

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Light is transformed into an electrical signal in the retina, and this is transmitted through the optic nerves to the brain, where the information is interpreted as an image. The optic nerve fibers are coated with myelin which acts like insulation on a wire. The myelin is what becomes damaged in optic neuritis, and this affects vision by slowing signal transmission to the brain.

It is unclear what causes optic neuritis. It is thought that perhaps proteins on a virus “trick” the person’s immune system into thinking that the myelin is foreign material. The inflammation associated with optic neuritis can result in discomfort (particularly with movement of the eye).

Usually after a few days the pain will go away and vision will improve. This can be a recurring condition and has been noted as being an indication of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Symptoms include:

  • Sudden decrease in vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Dark vision
  • Pain and discomfort with eye movement in and around the eye


  • Observation and pain management
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