Optic Neuritis

Labelled Diagram of the Eye

Labelled diagram of the structure of the retina

Optic Neuritis is also known as Retrobulbar Neuritis.


Optic neuritis is inflammation (the suffix "-itis" usually indicates "inflammation") of the optic nerve, which is located behind the eye.

Optic neuritis can cause the perception of blurred vision through the affected eye(s). Symptoms may include some, but not necessarily all of the following:

  • Blurred or dimmed vision,
  • Blind spot at or near center of vision,
  • Colours appearing paler than usual,
  • Pain when moving or attempting to move the affected eye(s),
  • Tenderness of the eye to touch or pressure,
  • Severely reduced vision / blindness in the affected eye(s).


Optic neuritis is one of the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) but can also occur due to other infections e.g. herpes zoster, or independently of any other symptoms and pass with full recovery of vision as experienced before through the affected eye(s).

The duration of an instance of optic neuritis is likely to depend on the cause - of which there are many possibilities. In some cases optic neuritis may become a recurrent problem, that is - it may appear to have ceased, only to return some time later.

Medical attention is important because optic neuritis may result in serious damage to vision if not treated appropriately.

More about Ophthalmology:

This section includes short definitions of many diseases, disorders, and conditions of the eyes and visual system.
For definitions of other terms in this category, choose from the list to the left (but note that this is not a complete/exhaustive list).

Other related pages include

For further information see also our pages of books about ophthalmology.

The following books may also be of interest:

The Aging Eye (Harvard Medical School)
MCQ Companion to the Eye (Textbook)
The Secret of Perfect Vision: How You Can Prevent and Reverse Nearsightedness
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About(TM) Glaucoma: The Essential Treatments and Advances That Could Save Your Sight

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