Causes Of Swollen Optic Nerve: Symptoms And Treatment Options

The optic nerve transmits information from retina to the brain. Swollen optic nerve refers to a condition when it the nerves get swollen due to an underlying problem. This condition is also known as optic neuritis. As the optic nerves comprises a bundle of fibers all of which play a crucial role in transferring information to the brain, problem to any of the fiber can lead to this condition thereby triggering vision problems which may even culminate in loss of eyesight.

The problem can affect either one eye or both the eyes.

When it affects only one eye, it is termed as mono optic neuritis. Given the ramifications of the diseases, especially when left untreated, it is extremely important to consult an ophthalmologist at the initial stage of affliction.

Symptoms Of Swollen Optic Nerve

Difficulty in viewing is one of the most common symptoms of swelling in optic nerve. This is mostly accompanied by other symptoms like tender and sore eyes. If the condition degenerates, patients may also feel a persistent sharp pain behind their eyes. If left untreated the condition may cause the vision to get blurred or decreased.

Other prominent symptoms of this condition include decreased peripheral vision as well as reduced perception of colors. Though rare, some patients may also get fever, nausea and vomiting as a sign of this condition. In many cases, the symptoms are similar to other optical problems. The only way to address the condition is by consulting an ophthalmologist.

What Can Cause Optic Nerve Swelling?

Swelling in optic nerve is generally caused when the immune system of the body attacks the myelin covering of the optic nerve. Though this can happen to anyone, people with autoimmune disease like sarcoidosis, Behcet’s disease, HIV and lupis have greater risk.

Multiple sclerosis leading to inflammation of the myelin layer can also trigger this condition. Cryptococcosis, which is a fungal infection, is also responsible for swelling optic nerve in many cases. Lyme disease, syphilis and cat scratch fever are some bacterial infections that can cause the swelling of optic nerve. Toxoplasmosis, which is a parasitic diseases have also caused this optical problem.

Viral infections like mononucleosis, herpes, hepatitis B, rubella, chickenpox, mumps, measles and even cold have been diagnosed as cause of this condition in several patients. Besides these, poor digestion, blood circulation, allergies and even diabetes can also be responsible for swollen optic nerve.

Treatment Options For Swelling Of Optic Nerve

Most patients experiencing swollen optic nerve condition generally do not require any specialized treatment to regain normal vision. Ophthalmologists mostly prescribe steroid medications orally for reducing the inflammation of nerve and restoring normal vision. However, if there is severe loss of vision, patients may need corticosteroids in higher dose, which usually is administered intravenously. In some cases, doctors even recommend plasma exchange therapy.

Recovery period varies depending on the extent of damage and may take a few weeks or even months. The condition can recur if proper preventive measure is not adopted.

Doctors recommend reducing intake of soda, caffeine, artificial fat, MSG and deep fried foods. Alcohol consumption and smoking should also be avoided by patients diagnosed with swelling optic nerve. It is also recommended to take vision diet and eye supplementation products along with regular exercise to prevent recurrence of this condition.

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