New study published in Lancet Neurology proposes a new classification for vision loss

Dr Sharik Mustafa working as a specialist Neurologist with Prime Healthcare Group, Dubai has contributed to an international study on novel diagnostic criteria for optic neuritis which has been published in the Lancet Neurology. Dr. Sharik said that Optic neuritis which is the inflammation of the optic nerve is a common cause of vision loss and can affect people of any age.


The earliest description of Optic Neuritis comes from Hunain Ibn Ishaq, the Arab physician who lived in the Abbasid era (809 AD). In his book, the ten treatises of the eye, he documents the following, “ Therefore we see the vision has changed or diminished without our finding any change in the pupil and there is heaviness in the head and particularly the deep part and the parts surrounding the orbit. We know that the affection is caused by abundant moisture which has run to the optic nerve and has compressed or swelled it.”

Up until now, there has been no consensus on how to diagnose optic neuritis, making it challenging to provide timely treatment for conditions in which it is the first symptom. 

The cause and management of optic neuritis varies with geographical location, treatment availability, and ethnic background 

The study funded by University College London (UCL) recruited over 100 specialists from 60 countries to assess real-life clinical scenarios. This enabled them to develop diagnostic criteria outlining clinical features that indicate possible optic neuritis. Further tests, using the brain, orbital, and retinal imaging, together with biomarker data, could then be used to confirm a definite diagnosis of the condition. In the study, the researchers achieved a 95% expert consensus through a Delphi process to categorize the links between optic neuritis and other antibody mediated disorders, including syndromes such as neuromyelitis optica or myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibody-associated disease, which are more common in patients of African and Asian origin The criteria developed by the researchers will reduce the risk of misdiagnosis and will be useful for informing treatment options. For example, the likelihood of a patient needing long-term pharmacological management may differ according to their subgroups of optic neuritis. 


Dr. Sharik added: “Our study attempts to universalize and classify the many syndromes that can manifest as optic neuritis. We hope our classification will lead to the identification of yet more immunological causes of optic neuritis and ensure uniformity in identifying sub-types of optic neuritis. I’m hopeful that the criteria we have developed will lead to a consensus on how to design treatment trials for optic neuritis in the future.”

Please refer, GulfNews

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