What is the significance of optic neuritis (ON) in multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Updated: Oct 08, 2019
  • Author: Christopher Luzzio, MD; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
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Optic neuritis (ON) can be the first demyelinating event in approximately 20% of patients with MS. ON develops in approximately 40% of MS patients during the course of their disease. [54]

ON is characterized by loss of vision (or loss of color vision) in the affected eye and pain on movement of the eye. Much less commonly, patients with ON may describe phosphenes (transient flashes of light or black squares) lasting from hours to months. Phosphenes may occur before or during an ON event or even several months following recovery.

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