MS Optic Nerve Attacks and Symptoms

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Optic neuritis, or the inflammation of the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain, is the third most common type of multiple sclerosis relapse, making up approximately 17% of all attacks. 20% of all MSers experience this as their first acute attack. The optic nerve sends messages from the eye to the brain, describing visual clarity, color perception, and brightness. An attack of optic neuritis usually affects one eye. During an acute MS optic nerve attack (when the immune system attacks the myelin covering surrounding the optic nerve), the following symptoms may occur:

Blurred, murky vision: this can be intermittent or it can be a steady disruption of proper sight

Acute loss of vision: complete loss of vision in the affected eye may occur, and this too may fluctuate or remain steady during an attack

Eye pain: pain from the inflamed optic nerve can make moving the eye or even keeping the eye still very painful

Loss of or change in color vision: optic nerve inflammation can also cause a loss of or fluctuation in color clarity, making the visual field less vivid or “washed out”


  • How weird…I just left a comment of Shauna’s blog about her “eye” for the stunning and came directly here. Now I’m kinda creeped out! LOL

    Linda D. in Seattle

  • After my first exacerbation my eyes never went entirely back to normal. My peripheral in one eye is a bit “abnormal.” It seems this happens to many people with MS but I have no data to prove it.

  • Jen

    Well it isn’t the prettiest view of an eye, is it? Do you feel as though it’s following you, Linda?…haha!

    Nadja– I hear so many people talk about their residual vision problems. I haven’t experienced optic neuritis to date, but I had 6th nerve palsy (double vision), and thankfully that didn’t leave any permanent damage. It’s a mystery as to what will disappear and what will leave a permanent mark I guess.

  • Hello Jen –
    I have optic neuritis, multiple sclerosis and trigeminal neuralgia. On April 1. 2012, my website and blog, Bends In The Road: One woman’s journey through life’s turning points (,) will launch.

    In this blog, I will discuss my journey from an active healthy person to someone overcome by ailments and severe depression to my current management of these and other diseases through the help of family, friends, and excellent doctors.

    Working on this blog has provided me with a new life in which I feel as if I finally am contributing something to the world. I will have images and a reference section on the website in which I will post names and links to books and websites that will be helpful to all persons struggling with major life altering events that were out of their control.

    I would like to request the use of the optic nerve image located above as well as a link to this post. Would this be possible? I would love to list this as a resource to my readers – which will be many as I have advertised greatly to other bloggers, people with MS, therapists working with people who have MS, my local and other chapters of MS, the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association and Network, as well as friends and family.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Sincerely –
    Monique Liddle

  • Jen

    Absolutely, Monique. Best wishes to you!….


  • Pat

    I just got back from a MS neurologist and after an eye test says the optic nerve is slow in one eye. I’m having blurred vision and jumpy vision.

    Does anyone know if this can cause permanent total loss of vision

  • Jen

    Hi Pat—

    If you have MS, there is always a risk of permanent damage. I would check with your neurologist to get more info about optic neuritis.

  • hi i have optic nerve glioma i am 26 now

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