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Information on Multiple Sclerosis

Is it true that optic neuritis is an early sign of multiple sclerosis?
(May 11, 2010)

Optic neuritis occurs when the optic nerve gets inflamed on account of a lesion. The optic nerve is made up of a bundle of nerve fibers that transmit visual data to the brain. This may result in an acute loss or reduction in vision which may or may not be accompanied by pain. The onset of optic neuritis is very sudden and without warning and gradual deterioration of vision takes place within 24 to 48 hours of its onset. Reduced vision may be in the form of a blurring, absence of color, flashes of light or even a blank spot in the middle of the eye.

It is observed that many a times, optic neuritis is the starting point of multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the nervous system that adversely affects the spinal cord and brain .It tends to damage or break down the myelin sheath which is a protective covering around the nerve cells which in turn either slows down or completely blocks the transmission of information between different parts of the body and the brain. Multiple Sclerosis is characterized by weakness in the muscles, coordination and balance related issues, concentration and memory problems. Research has shown that almost 15% to 20% of people who develop multiple sclerosis tend to have optic neuritis as their first symptom. Once an MRI scan is done, practically half of the patients suffering from optic neuritis tend to have abnormal changes in the brain white matter which is synonymous with multiple sclerosis. When an MRI scan is conducted on patient who still in the initial stages of an optic neuritis, it has been noticed that the occurrence of lesions in the brain increases the risk of developing multiple sclerosis in future by almost three times. Then again a sizeable population of patient with brain lesion s at the time of an MRI scan taken at the initial stage of optic neuritis may not progress into multiple sclerosis even 10 years hence.

People suffering from optic neuritis may have a substantial loss of vision in the concerned eye which may even transform into complete blindness. However with proper treatment and medical care, optic neuritis may be cured completely and may not lead to multiple sclerosis. In some cases permanent effects of optic neuritis in the form of loss of clarity of vision or reduction in color perception is also known to occur.
Submitted by A M on May 11, 2010 at 07:33


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