Is there any treatment for optic neuritis (ON)?

Optic neuritis may resolve spontaneously without treatment. However, if visual function is poor, a course of IV methylprednisolone (a steroid medication) with a tapering course of oral steroids afterwards has been shown to speed recovery of visual function. The usual course is three days of IV steroids followed by a few days of tapering medication. Side effects of steroids include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Stomach upset
  • A metal taste
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Increased glucose levels (particularly in diabetics)
  • Thrush (a fungal infection)

Long-term steroids have other risks. Low dose oral prednisone is no longer used as it is not effective for optic neuritis.

If patients have multiple areas of demyelination on the MRI scans of the brain, there is some evidence that using medications that are effective in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis may make it less likely that the patients will develop MS.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/28/2019.


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