There seem to be a variety of causes for optic neuritis. It may be caused by the body's immune system mistakenly attacking optic nerve tissue.
It may also be associated with other diseases and conditions. For example, optic neuritis may be a symptom of multiple sclerosis. For some people with multiple sclerosis, optic neuritis is the first symptom they experience. Adults with optic neuritis have an increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis, while children have a much lower risk.
Other causes of optic neuritis include:
- Leber's optic neuropathy (a rare eye condition that runs in families);
- Vascular occlusions of the optic nerve;
- Bacterial infections, such as Lyme disease or syphilis;
- Viral infections, such as HIV, hepatitis B and herpes; or
- Certain drugs.
In most cases, however, optic neuritis occurs with no known cause.
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