How do I Choose the Best Optic Neuritis Treatment?

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  • Written By: Nicole Long
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Images By: Kocakayaali, Thirteen Of Clubs
  • Last Modified Date: 15 March 2020
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Decisions related to optic neuritis treatment will need to be based on discussions with a qualified ophthalmologist. Optic neuritis treatment options include oral or intravenous steroids. An ophthalmologist can discuss further optic neuritis treatment options, such as specific injectable medications and plasma exchange, for those with severe cases or additional health concerns.

Optic neuritis results from an inflammation of the optic nerve. An individual's optic nerve transmits signals to their brain to allow them to process images. The exact cause of optic neuritis is not known. In some, especially children, the development of optic neuritis may be linked to a recent cold, mumps, measles, or other viral illnesses.

The symptoms of optic neuritis are hard to miss. Partial or complete loss of vision, blurred vision, and pain behind the eye are all a result of the inflammation of the optic nerve. Images may also lack color or be dulled because of optic neuritis.

Choosing an optic neuritis treatment will be up to a qualified eye doctor. Steroid treatment is used if an ophthalmologist believes the case of optic neuritis will not resolve itself. Both intravenous and oral steroids are options.

Intravenous steroids are one option for optic neuritis treatment. This therapy lasts for several days and can help recover lost vision. While receiving steroid medication intravenously can accelerate the recovery of a person’s vision, the amount of vision recovery is not correlative and can’t be predicted.


Oral steroids are typically used following intravenous steroid therapy. They allow a patient to receive continued benefits of steroid treatment, including reduced inflammation of the optic nerve, at home. Oral steroids, such as prednisone, will need to be taken for approximately two weeks.

Complications exist with steroid-based treatments. This includes side effects such as weight gain, stomach upset, and mood changes. The side effects should be taken into consideration when discussing steroid treatment with an eye doctor.

Those suffering from a severe case of optic neuritis need to consider another option for treatment. This option is called plasma exchange. Plasma exchange is typically reserved for those patients who don’t respond to steroid treatments.

Injectable medications are prescribed for those with a risk of developing multiple sclerosis from optical neuritis. These injectable drugs help prevent the development of multiple sclerosis during treatment for optical neuritis. They are used when a magnetic imaging resonance (MRI) test reveals two or more lesions on the brain of the patient.


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