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  • Optic nerve is the wirelikestructure which transmits electric signal generated in the retina to the brain.

  • Optic nerve is one of the important cranial nerves.

  • Optic nerve functioning is essential to good vision and good color vision.

  • Common optic nerve disorders are Optic neuritis and Optic disc edema











  • It is generally sudden, painless, loss of vision in one eye in an otherwise normal person.

  • It is a medical emergency and requires emergent treatment.

  • The patient’s health has to be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.

  • The important clinical features are : reduced vision, reduced color vision, affected pupillary reaction (typically known as RAPD- Relative Afferent Pupillary Defect), sometimes pain in eye movements . 

  • After a proper physician evaluation and ruling out of other disorders, the treatment is with Intravenous steroids according to the regimen prescribed by Optic Neuritis Treatment Trial (ONTT). 

  • About 1% of patients with Optic Neuritis have some neurological disorder as the cause of optic neuritis and may require additional neurologic treatment.


  • Presence of optic nerve swelling in one or both eyes may not always be due to optic neuritis.

  • Sometimes, it may be related to some disorders such as 

    • -Sudden rise of Blood pressure (known as malignant hypertension)

    • -Sudden rise of Intracranial tension 

    • -Presence of a space-occupying lesion in the brain

  • It is such cases which need more detailed neurological evaluation to rule out some major neurological disorder.

Photograph A shows normal optic nerve with clear optic nerve margins. Photograph B shows blurred optic nerve margins – seen in Optic Neuritis 

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