Optic Neuritis: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve that leads from the back of the eye to the brain.

The symptoms of optic neuritis include full or partial vision loss, blurred vision, reduced color vision, and pain with movement of the eye. Other associated symptoms can include distorted vision, loss of contrast, inability to distinguish certain colors (dyschromatopsia), and washed-out or less vivid vision.

Causes of optic neuritis

Optic neuritis has multiple causes. It is frequently found to occur as a result of multiple sclerosis. Other causes of optic neuritis include infections, autoimmune disease, and injury to the optic nerve. Many infections can cause the condition, including measles, mumps, herpes virus, Lyme disease, syphilis, cat scratch fever, and other bacterial and viral infections.

Other optic neuritis symptoms and signs

  • Blurred Vision
  • Distorted Vision
  • Full or Partial Vision Loss
  • Inability to Distinguish Certain Colors (Dyschromatopsia)
  • Loss of Contrast
  • Painful Eye Movements
  • Reduced Color Vision


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.