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Neuritis may have flare-ups, which means approximately 25% of patients who have experienced neuritis will have another episode in their lifetime. A person who has had an acute episode or flare-up may experience improvement in their vision up to 6 months after the onset of visual loss.
The after effects that may remain after neuritis are: blurred vision in the eye with neuritis, seeing colours as duller, decreased contrast, decreased depth perception or loss of some areas of the visual field.
It is important to rule out associated diseases such as multiple sclerosis in people who have or have had neuritis. The signs and symptoms of optic neuritis may be the first manifestation of multiple sclerosis, or may appear in a person who has already been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
In addition to multiple sclerosis, inflammation of the optic nerve may also be associated with other demyelinating diseases (diseases in which the layer covering the neurons is lost), or associated with infections or immunological diseases such as lupus.
The complications of optic neuritis include:
Optic nerve injury: the majority of people who have had neuritis have some permanent impact on the optic nerve that can cause permanent symptoms.
Decreased visual acuity: most people regain normal vision within the first few months, but a partial loss of the ability to distinguish between colours may persist.
Side effects of treatment: the corticosteroids used to treat optic neuritis temporarily suppress the immune system, meaning the body becomes more susceptible to infections. Other side effects of the medication included mood changes and weight gain. These side effects are generally rare, as the treatment is of short duration.
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