Neurologic impairment 10 years after optic neuritis

Arch Neurol. 2004 Sep;61(9):1386-9. doi: 10.1001/archneur.61.9.1386.


Background: Participants enrolled in the Optic Neuritis Treatment Trial have been observed for more than a decade to assess the relationship between optic neuritis and the development of clinically definite multiple sclerosis.

Objective: To assess neurologic disability 10 to 12 years after an initial episode of optic neuritis.

Design: Longitudinal follow-up of a clinical trial.

Setting: Fourteen Optic Neuritis Treatment Trial clinical centers performed standardized neurologic examinations, including an assessment of neurologic disability.

Participants: One hundred twenty-seven patients who had developed clinically definite multiple sclerosis.

Main outcome measures: Functional Systems Scale and Expanded Disability Status Scale.

Results: The disability of most patients was mild, with 65% of patients having an Expanded Disability Status Scale score lower than 3.0. The degree of disability appeared to be unrelated to whether the baseline magnetic resonance imaging scan was lesion-free or showed lesions (P =.51). Among patients with baseline lesions, the degree of disability was unrelated to the number of lesions that were present on the scan (P =.14). Two patients died owing to severe multiple sclerosis, one of whom had no lesions revealed on the baseline scan.

Conclusion: Most patients who develop clinically definite multiple sclerosis following an initial episode of optic neuritis will have a relatively benign course for at least 10 years.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Optic Neuritis / complications*
  • Optic Neuritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Optic Neuritis / pathology
  • Radiography