Optic neuritis: historical aspects

J Neuroophthalmol. 2001 Dec;21(4):302-9. doi: 10.1097/00041327-200112000-00015.


Optic nerve disorders were not reliably diagnosed until the late nineteenth century when ophthalmoscopy became part of the ophthalmic examination. By the early 1900's, all of the salient clinical features of optic neuritis and its relationship to "systemic sclerosis" were recognized, but there was much controversy and misunderstanding about its differential diagnosis, pathogenesis, and possible treatment. During the twentieth century, physicians began to distinguish optic neuritis from infectious, hereditary, toxic, nutritional, and ischemic optic neuropathies. The development of magnetic resonance imaging and the results from recent clinical trials have enhanced our understanding of the relationship between optic neuritis and multiple sclerosis. The next decade holds the promise of further elaborating the pathogenesis and treatment of optic neuritis.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Ophthalmology / history
  • Optic Neuritis / history*