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What are Optic Neuritis?

The optic nerve is the essence of what makes up vision. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to see! Unfortunately, it is possible for this nerve to become damaged. For pets and humans alike, this will cause vision to become impaired or cease because the main structure for transmitting your eye’s signals to the brain is damaged.

There are many reasons your pet can develop this condition. Some are more serious than others, especially if they are from an underlying disease. Fortunately, this condition can usually be treated, but sometimes it leaves your pet with permanently affected vision.

Optic nerve swelling, or optic neuritis, is inflammation of the optic nerve. This is the structure responsible for transmitting electrical signals from the retina to the brain.

Optic Neuritis Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,500

Average Cost

$2,200

Symptoms of Optic Neuritis in Dogs

Because this condition is on the eyes, it will be very apparent that something is wrong. Your pet may have symptoms suddenly, or if the optic neuritis is formed from an underlying condition, it can show up gradually.

The symptoms of optic neuritis are few. They usually will be:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Optic nerve head is swollen
  • Sudden blindness
  • Pain with eye movement
  • Tender eyes and areas around the eyes
  • Decreased depth perception

If you notice any of these symptoms, definitely schedule your pet in to see their veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will most likely refer you to an ophthalmology specialist for further testing on your pet’s eyes.

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Causes of Optic Neuritis in Dogs

Unlike the symptoms, there are several reasons why your dog may have a damaged optic nerve. Most of them are due to an underlying disease such as toxoplasmosis, Neosporosis, multiple sclerosis (MS), or a vitamin A deficiency. Optic neuritis is actually the number one symptom when diagnosing MS; it will usually be diagnosed after finding optic nerve swelling. Other causes could be:

  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • Cancer
  • Toxin ingestion (not common with canines)

With inflammatory brain diseases, such as Neosporosis, this is usually a last resort symptom. Any sudden change in eyesight is never a good sign, so it is important to know your dog’s eye health.

A Vitamin A deficiency can be prevented and treated by giving your pet more fish, liver, and vegetables in their diet. If your pet has optic neuritis due to a deficiency, however, it is extreme and should be discussed with your veterinarian.

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Diagnosis of Optic Neuritis in Dogs

Diagnosing this condition is not always easy. Optic neuritis is not always an obvious case; the specialist will have to perform many examinations to correctly diagnose the issue.

This will usually begin with simple eye tests, such as checking pupil dilation and if your pet can see certain objects. If this fails, then the specialists will schedule an electroretinogram (ERG). This procedure is a closer look at the outer retina. Because this test must be absolutely spot-on, your pet will have to be put under an anesthetic, so they don’t move about.

Other tests that will help determine if it is optic neuritis are an MRI and brain fluid samples (CSF). The CSF test helps determine if there are any fluids or substances in the eye that shouldn’t be there, such as glucose, blood, or proteins.

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Treatment of Optic Neuritis in Dogs

The treatment for optic neuritis is fairly simple. A specialist should give your pet intravenous steroids as this will reduce the risk of them developing MS later on by 50%. There are oral steroids, but the risks are obviously higher. Pets who receive these steroids start to have improved health from anywhere between a few days to a few weeks. The only exception is for dogs who may have a more serious condition.

Your veterinarian may also prescribe antibiotics and a topical treatment. These will just help clear and fight off any infections that may develop.

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Recovery of Optic Neuritis in Dogs

While this condition can permanently affect your pet’s vision, the prognosis is good. Swelling of the nerves can damage vision, causing blindness, however, early treatment and uncomplicated cases have better results.

You should keep your pet on bed rest and most likely invest in an Elizabethan collar, so they can’t touch their eyes. Playing, walks, and trips outside should be kept to a minimum and heavily supervised. Your veterinarian may also require a few check-ins to see how your pet is feeling.

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Optic Neuritis Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,500

Average Cost

$2,200

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Optic Neuritis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Weimaraner

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Optic Neuritis

Our dog has chronic optic neuritis that has been ongoing for roughly roughly 9 months. We have spent thousands between our vet and our ophthalmologist, and still no closer to an answer on what is causing it. It is very difficult to give up on vision, as she is highly responsive to higher dosage steroid medications (40 mg daily) which restores her sight. She is not responsive to 10 mg per day, and almost completely blind at the lower dosage. An electroretinogram revealed perfect retinas. Negative blood work (tick, fungal, bact.). No neuro symptoms. Anemic per recent tests, no symptoms. Advice?

July 13, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

I'm sorry that your dog is having these problems. I wish that I could offer any insight, but I think that your veterinarians have been very thorough. I will say that if given the opportunity, dogs do well without sight. You can't move their environment around, or change things, but in a protected place, they do fine. I've seen many dogs have lived very normal lives with limited vision. I hope that you are able to come to some resolution for this with your dog.

July 13, 2020

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rocky

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Poodle mix

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11 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Tired

Our 11 year old dog was just diagnosed with sards. All blood work came back ok. He just recently has blood shot eyes and runny eyes. Any chance it could be something curable. He started eating more than usual which has since stopped, weight gain, drinking more and we started noticing he wasnt seeing well. Was told he was completely blind. Last visit he could see light a bit.

April 5, 2018

rocky's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Unfortunately, without knowing more about Rocky and his condition, I can't comment on his condition, or his prognosis - he does seem to have a lot going on, and may need further care. It would be best to follow up with his veterinarian to see what the nest step for him might be.

April 5, 2018

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Piglet

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French Bulldog

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1 Year

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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Blind
Blind Optic Neuritis

I am a licensed veterinary technician. About three months ago my 1 yr old neutered French bulldog developed optic neuritis (only has one eye currently bc the other was enucleated before I got him). He was placed on oral pred and doxy. The dr didn't think it wouldn't reoccur except possibly at the end taper. He was doing great until last night, he is going blind exactly the same as last time. I have restarted his medication. The specialist can not figure out why it has reoccurred and isn't sure which step to take next. He is awaiting another specialist appointment, but until are there any suggested tests I send out from my clinic to get to the bottom of this?

March 24, 2018

Piglet's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There is nothing I can recommend at this time apart from restarting corticosteroid therapy, making an appointment to visit an Ophthalmologist to confirm the diagnosis and to review treatment and actions to date. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 24, 2018

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bj

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Pomeranian

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14 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vision Loss

14 year old Pomeranian. 3 days ago it was determined she had signs of cervical IVDD. We put her in small controlled space w good footing per Vet's orders. She continued on Gabapentin (now 5 days-previous visit for presumed patella pain) and was given tramadol per IVDD determination. 2 days ago, the next day after IVDD DIAGNOSIS our dog woke up and was apparently blind. We r going to ophthalmologist today. Could spine trauma, pain meds, or other cause optic neuritis or other eye damage? Appreciate your help/comments. B.A.

Feb. 19, 2018

bj's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Loss of vision are not listed side effects of gabapentin or tramadol administration, but there are the odd report of it especially in human medicine; I cannot say what the specific cause of the apparent loss of vision is but any changes to the eyes including inflammation, increase in intraocular pressure (glaucoma) or other changes may result in a loss of vision. The Ophthalmologist would check these things during an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Feb. 19, 2018

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Lolita

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Yorkshire Terrier

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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See Above Description

My 6 lb yorkie was diagnosed late last year with optic neuritis. Since then she has been on prednisone and cyclosporine. Will she need both Ned's for life? She is just shy of 7 years old.

Aug. 30, 2017

Lolita's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

There are many causes of optic neuritis which may require a combination of treatments; typically after inflammation has been reduced with steroids, the dose is tapered to see if there is resolution and to see if there is a recurrence of inflammation. It would be best to discuss this with your Veterinarian as optic neuritis may be caused by infection, trauma, poisoning, secondary to other disease processes among other causes. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 30, 2017

I am a 64 year old female, I was diagnosed of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2008 (MRI), my symptoms started out with severe fatigue, poor balance, numbness, double vision, heat intolerance and anxiety. I was unable to go back to work, I tried Betaseron for about 6 years. Tried every shot available, all made me sick. In November 2015, I started on Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Herbal formula from NewLife Clinic, the treatment worked incredibly for my MS condition. I used the NewLife MS Herbal formula for a total time period of 4 months, it totally reversed my Multiple Sclerosis. I had a total decline of all symptoms including vision problems, numbness and others. Sometimes, i totally forget i ever had MS. Visit NewLife Clinic web-site ww w. newlifeherbalclinic. com. I am very pleased with this treatment. I eat well, sleep well and exercise regularly. My attitude is extremely positive.

Jan. 9, 2018

Jesse G.


I am a 64 year old female, I was diagnosed of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2008 (MRI), my symptoms started out with severe fatigue, poor balance, numbness, double vision, heat intolerance and anxiety. I was unable to go back to work, I tried Betaseron for about 6 years. Tried every shot available, all made me sick. In November 2015, I started on Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Herbal formula from NewLife Clinic, the treatment worked incredibly for my MS condition. I used the NewLife MS Herbal formula for a total time period of 4 months, it totally reversed my Multiple Sclerosis. I had a total decline of all symptoms including vision problems, numbness and others. Sometimes, i totally forget i ever had MS. Visit NewLife Clinic web-site ww w. newlifeherbalclinic. com. I am very pleased with this treatment. I eat well, sleep well and exercise regularly. My attitude is extremely positive.

Jan. 9, 2018

Jesse G.

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Murphy

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Lhasa Apso

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10 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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Dilated Pupils,

My dog got cherry eye repair surgery (left eye only) a month ago in which the vet tucked in the gland. About 3-weeks after the cherry eye surgery, my dog is diagnosed with SARDS on both eyes and is completely blind. His right eye was functioning fine. Now both eyes are blind. How can this happen? Did the cherry eye surgery impact his retinas? Did the surgery cause SARDS or some kind of retinal nerve detachment?

Optic Neuritis Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,500

Average Cost

$2,200

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