Optic Neuritis: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects
What is the treatment?
Optic Neuritis is also known as optic papillitis and retrobullar neuritis
How is the treatment done?
Optic neuritis refers to the inflammation that occurs in the nerve that sends messages from the eye to the brain. At times, it means that the nerve looses the fatty layer that covers it and protects it, known as the myelin
. Without the myelin, the optic nerve cannot send the right messages to the brain and as a result of this, there are sudden changes in the vision. The vision loss that takes place due to optic neuritis is usually temporary and tends to recover on its own within a few weeks or months. Some people depend upon steroids to speed up their recovery process.
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
For optic neuritis which is associated with MS, the vision is said to recover on its own. However, for optic neuritis that is not multiple sclerosis
(MS) associated, doctors recommend patients to intake corticosteroids. Steroid treatment is usually provided intravenously (by the vein) so that it may speed up the vision recovery process but it does not affect the amount of vision you might be recovering. Steroid treatment is also offered to patients in order to reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis or in order to slow down its development. However, while many patients’ intake corticosteroids such as oral methyl prednisone and oral prednisone, research has pointed out that the intake of either intravenous or oral corticosteroids does not affect the rate of recovery of vision.
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
Optic neuritis occurs in both adults and children. In adults, it generally infects just one eye while in the case of children, optic neuritis occurs in both the eyes. In case you suffer from optic neuritis, which tends to generally heal itself with the course of time and no treatment has been found to be completely reliable by researches, time should be given to heal from the disease. If you suffer from optic neuritis and you have had two or more brain lesions, then drugs called beta interferons should be used in order to prevent or delay multiple sclerosis. These drugs can be taken by anyone who is at a high risk for developing MS.
Are there any side effects?
Optic neuritis most commonly affects young adults in the age group of 18 o 50 years of age. Females suffer mostly from optic neuritis when compared to males. Incase the optic neuritis is not associated with multiple sclerosis, then only time can be used to heal it. Steroids are often used to lessen the inflammation but they had not provided any solid evidence in working for the proper cure of the disease. Only people who have optic neuritis as a result of multiple sclerosis should take extra medications such a beta interferon
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
The steroid treatment which is used to treat optic neuritis brings along with it several side effects as well. These steroids can subdue the immune system of the patient and as a result of a weak immune system; the chances of catching infections tend to increase. Apart from this, intake of steroids also tends to lead to weight gain and mood swings. For patients with multiple sclerosis associated optic neuritis, the use of drugs to prevent or delay MS can lead to various side effects upon the patient as well. These side effects range from depression
in the injection site (in case of intravenous admission of the drug) and several flu-like symptoms.
How long does it take to recover?
The only guidelines to be followed after administration of the treatment via steroids etc. is to keep a regular visit to the doctor. Lifestyle changes should be brought about, a well balanced and healthy diet
should be maintained. Since optic neuritis is self-treatable, mostly patients can recover quite naturally with time.
What is the price of the treatment in India?
The vision loss in case of optic neuritis usually worsens within 7-10 days and by itself, it tends to improve with 1-3 months and sometimes longer. Most patients with optic neuritis recover with a 20/20 visual acuity. The time taken to recover from optic neuritis varies from patient to patient. Some people recover their vision within weeks while others can last for more than a year.
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
Since the vision returns back on its own account in majority of the cases of optic neuritis, the treatment cost is negligible for such cases. Only the cost of diagnosis is to be borne by the patient. In case of the usage of steroids as prescribed by the doctor, the cost of this treatment varies according to the type of steroid and the intake.
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
Optic neuritis is the first sign of multiple sclerosis in more than 20% of people who suffer from it. There are chances of countering MS after suffering from optic neuritis in about 50% of the people. However, in case of optic neuritis which is not MS associated, the chances of it occurring again are close to none. Mostly the disease treats itself so a visit to the doctor is only needed for diagnosis purposes.