Findings from the Optic Neuritis Treatment Trial, January 21, 1992: This randomized, multicenter clinical trial was supported by the National Eye Institute, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The trial evaluated the safety and efficacy of corticosteroid treatment in over 450 patients with optic neuritis. It found that oral prednisone (prescribed in a dosage of 1 mg/kg/day for 14 days) was not only ineffective in speeding recovery or in improving the visual outcome after optic neuritis, but actually increased a patient's risk for future attacks in either the affected or fellow eye. Specifically, trial investigators found that 27 percent of the patients taking oral prednisone had at least one new attack of optic neuritis during followup, which for some patients was as long as two years. In contrast, patients who received an oral placebo had a 15 percent rate of subsequent optic neuritis. Based on these findings, the trial investigators have concluded that there is no role for oral prednisone alone in standard dosages in the treatment of patients with initial episodes of optic neuritis. The complete findings from this study are published in the N Engl J Med 1992 Feb 27;326(9):581-588. Contacts: Judith Stein or Bob Kuska (301) 496-5248.
Paroxysmal symptoms refer to a sudden onset of a neurological symptom, or cluster of symptoms that may last over seconds to minutes, repeating a few to very many intervals per day. They can occur at any time in the course of MS and may vary in intensity and frequency, with or without pain. When these symptom clusters occur over several days, it may be considered to be an MS relapse. They may include (but are not limited to) trigeminal neuralgia, tonic spasms, weakness, dysarthria and ataxia, visual disturbance, numbness and other sensory disturbance, and Lhermitte’s sign.
Since almost 50% of optic neuritis is likely a result of a post-viral immune reaction, minimizing your risk of acquiring a viral respiratory infection decreases your risk of optic neuritis. It is impossible to totally avoid exposure to respiratory viruses, but research has shown that frequent hand-washing and attempting to not touch one's face without first washing one's hands decreases the incidence of the common cold . Teaching children to cover their mouths and noses when sneezing and instructing them on personal hygiene can also decrease the chances of upper respiratory virus spreading within families.