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Optic Neuritis: Care Instructions

Eyeball and optic nerve


Optic neuritis is a problem in the eye's optic nerve. This is the nerve that moves light and images from the eye to the brain. Optic neuritis causes the nerve to swell. You may have blurred or double vision or even loss of vision.

Your doctor may not know what caused the problem with your eye. In some cases, a virus infects the nerve. Sometimes the body's defences (immune system) mistakenly attack the body's own cells, such as the nerves. Many people with multiple sclerosis (MS), which is an immune system disease, have optic neuritis at some time. It can be the first symptom of MS.

Your doctor may want to watch your symptoms or may give you medicine, which can reduce the swelling of your optic nerve. In either case, the doctor will carefully keep track of your condition.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Follow any directions your doctor gives you to care for your eye.
  • Avoid bright lights or use dark glasses to protect the eye.
  • Over-the-counter eyedrops, such as artificial tears, may help the eye feel better. Choose a product that does not contain preservatives.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have sudden loss of vision.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your vision gets worse.
  • You have pain in your eye.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.