Optic Neuritis: Did It Cause Your Eye Pain And Flashing Lights?

Keeping your eyes well-rested, sharp, and clear are some of the most important things you can do for your vision. But if you suddenly see flashes of light or experience pain in one of your eyes, you may have a condition known as optic neuritis.  Here's more information about optic neuritis and how you can protect your eyes from it.

What's Optic Neuritis?

Optic neuritis affects the nerve fibers of the optic nerve. The optic nerve transmits electrical signals to your brain. If the nerve inflames or swells up, the signals become disrupted and don't reach the brain properly. The symptoms of optic neuritis can include eye pain and flashes of light. Some people experience problems seeing colors or hues and a temporary loss of vision. 

Although the condition generally occurs in people with multiple sclerosis, it can also affect people who suffer from sinus infections, viral infections, and reactions to certain medications. Bacterial conditions like meningitis can also cause problems with your optic nerve. If you have any of these health complications, you may be at risk for optic nerve inflammation.

Optic neuritis can be temporary for some people, or it may cause severe problems for others. It's important to see an eye specialist for an exam and proper diagnosis. 

Do You Have Optic Neuritis?

Optic neuritis requires several tests to properly diagnose it, including blood tests, magnetic resonance imaging and optic nerve scans. The tests can help an optometrist or another eye doctor detect swelling in your optic nerve or abnormal cells in your blood. If a doctor does signs of optic neuritis, they can take steps to treat it.

Depending on the optometrist you see, you may need to use steroids to control or reduce the swelling. Steroids can cause some nausea and other side effects, but the problems are often temporary. If you have concerns about your treatment, speak with your eye doctor as soon as possible.

Your condition should improve during and after the treatment. However, if your optic neuritis becomes worse, you may need to additional treatment to control it. If the inflammation in your eye goes away, an eye doctor will generally continue monitoring your vision for problems. Sometimes, optic neuritis can return if something inflames the optic nerve or if you develop a condition that affects your optic nerve.

To find treatment for your eye pain and flashing lights, or to see if you have optic neuritis, contact an optometrist today.