How Common Is Optic Neuritis Or Is It A Rare Disease?

The function of the visual analyzer is to give the human brain an idea of what we see. Through receptors located in the retina of the eye, the fixed “pictures” enter the visual center of the brain, where a signal is formed that tells the body how to act at the moment.

The transmission of information occurs through nerve impulses, and the branches of the optic nerve are the substance that ensures their movement. In the presence of risk factors, the chain may be broken leading to several ailments including optic neuritis.(1)

How Common Is Optic Neuritis Or Is It A Rare Disease?

Optic neuritis is common in the general population, with 1-5 infections per 1,000 people. Optic neuritis usually affects people between 20 and 40 years of age, with a higher incidence of women than men (almost twice).(1)

How Does Inflammation Occur?

The completeness of processing the information obtained from the above chain of information depends on the physiological health of all its components. So, if optic neuritis occurs, conductivity can be completely impaired and blindness can occur. Partial damage to the fibers entails a decrease in vision, as well as a limitation of its fields. Losses of sectors or islets from it (scotomas) are also possible. Inflammation can develop in the trunk or the membranes of the nerve.

Sometimes the causes of neuritis are factors that destroy the membrane. The result of such processes is similar.(2)

Risk Factors For Optical Neuritis

Optic neuritis can be caused by external and internal factors.

Risk factors for visual neuritis of an external nature include:

  • Bad habits (alcoholism);
  • Exposure to electromagnetic waves in the ranges exceeding the maximum permissible;
  • Injuries
  • Radiation exposure;
  • Stress
  • The use of poisons of various origins;
  • Uncontrolled intake of certain medications.(3)

The Main Symptoms Of Optical Neuritis

The onset of the disease can be attributed to acute processes. The first signs that appear in the first 24-48 hours are amplified and become widespread.

The severity of the symptoms is determined by the degree of pathological processes in the nerve.

The intra-bulbar form of the disease manifests itself in the appearance of cattle, in which gaps appear in the center of the field of vision – blind spots. The patient sees everything around him, except what is directly in front of him.

The form of the disease of retrobulbar nature can, in turn, be classified into axial, peripheral and transverse types. The attribution of the disease in one or another variant depends on where the infection is located. (4)

Diagnosis Of Optical Neuritis

Diagnosis of optical neuritis is based on methods that allow diagnosing an intrabulbar form in the initial stage.

Ophthalmoscopy: A method where the examination of the fundus is carried out by the doctor to assess the health of the optic disk.

Fluorescence Angiography: It is a procedure by which the blood vessels of the fundus are examined.

Indirect indicators for the diagnosis of visual neuritis are a decrease in vision and the appearance of cattle vision. The degree of such changes is also determined by the ophthalmologist.

Laboratory study methods are of indirect importance. The analyzed indicators are characteristic of any inflammatory process.

Angiography is the leading diagnostic method for retrobulbar neuritis only.(3)

Treatment Process For Optical Neuritis

Treatment of visual neuritis is carried out in a specialized hospital. The main question is to make a reliable diagnosis, for which a complex of diagnostic procedures is prescribed and the history of the development of the disease is taken into account.

When an infectious etiology of the disease occurs, a course of antibacterial treatment is prescribed. In the absence of a bacteriological result on the isolation of a microorganism, broad-spectrum antibiotics are prescribed.

The inflammatory process is stopped by corticosteroids. In some cases, it is necessary to improve the transmission of a nerve impulse from receptors to the center. To increase the body’s defenses, vitamins are recommended. Other drugs are prescribed when additional symptoms are present.

Physiotherapeutic procedures will speed up recovery. Usually, prescribed therapies are magnetotherapy, laser stimulation, and electrical procedures.(1)

References:

  1. Bennett JL. Optic Neuritis. CONTINUUM: Lifelong Learning in Neurology. 2019;25(5):1236-1264.
  2. Burton EV. Optic Neuritis: Clinical Manifestations, Pathophysiology, and Management. Neuroinflammation: Elsevier; 2018:337-353.
  3. Ramdas S, Morrison D, Absoud M, Lim M. Acute onset blindness: a case of optic neuritis and review of childhood optic neuritis. Case Reports. 2016;2016.
  4. Falcão-Gonçalves AB, Bichuetti DB, de Oliveira EML. Recurrent optic neuritis as the initial symptom in demyelinating diseases. Journal of Clinical Neurology. 2018;14(3):351-358.

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