What is the prognosis (outlook) for optic neuritis (ON)?

In general, ON improves in about 80 percent of patients over a few weeks. Some people have continued visual change, reduced color vision, or more difficulty with night-time vision. Many have a complete resolution of their symptoms. Even if there is some residual vision loss, people regain functional vision and can read and pass a driving test.

Occasionally optic neuritis recurs and requires retreatment. A small group of patients has continued recurrence of ON and requires ongoing treatment. Over time, about 50 percent of patients with ON will develop other neurological symptoms suggesting multiple sclerosis. Patients with more severe ON may have a condition called neuromyelitis optica, which can be diagnosed with a blood test.

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

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