Optic neuritis is a demyelinating inflammation of the optic nerve; that is generally triggered by the immune destruction of surrounding myelin sheath. This demyelination can contribute to the visual disturbances, color blindness and pain in the eyes especially associated with eye movement or dull aching pain behind the eyes. Apparently in more advanced cases, it may indicate optic nerve abnormalities, neural damage, increased neural pressure and neurodegenerative disorders, such as multiple sclerosis. Thus, in fact the optic neuritis may lead to total visual loss, if not treated well in time.
The condition is mostly common in younger adults below 45 years; with suggestive altogether higher incidences in women than in men. In majority of patients, it is either associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) or ischemic optic neuropathy (Blood Clot). Thus besides deliberately promoting visual damage; it can often be related to the neural damage in MS that may be associated with locomotary and sensory functional loss.
As a matter of fact, some of the less common causes of optic neuritis may include:
- Viral (measles, mumps and herpes) or bacterial infections (Lyme disease, cat-scratch fever and syphilis etc)
- Sarcoidosis and Lupus
- Drugs such as Quinine
- Genetic Predisposition
- Nutritional deficiency
- Environmental exposure to toxins
Diagnosis is confirmed by signs which include reduced visual acuity, substantial decrease in the peripheral vision of the patient, reduced sense of colour discrimination and identification of physical abnormality in the pupil of the affected eye confirmed by Slit lamp examination or ophthalmoscope. Visible swelling, blood vessel enlargement and retro bulbar inflammation around the optic nerve are other associated symptoms.
Conventionally, the treatment of MS associated optic neuritis includes intravenous administration of steroidal medications with the notion to reduce optic nerve inflammation; however studies have reported various possible side effects, such as weight gain, mood swings, facial flushing, stomach upset, and sleep apnea. Moreover, long term exposure may dangerously promote organ damage or hormonal disturbances.
Conventional treatment with steroidal medications is associated with numerous side effects. A science of stem cells has a precise solution to limit those challenges; by maximizing neural regeneration, reduction in the inflammation causing glial cell damage and promoting the production of oligodendrocytes.
Stem cells are the naive cells in the body with the potential to differentiate into multiple cells of different lineages or origin. Accordingly, mesenchymal stem cells isolated from human umbilical cord have been reported to be the most potent cells, exhibiting anti inflammatory, immunomodulatory and angiogenic ability. The vast database generated from worldwide clinical studies have raised hope of millions of people, that stem cells therapy can be employed successfully to treat patients with optic neuritis and associated conditions. These cells are reportedly contributing to the stimulation of endogenous stem cells, once infused inside the body; in order to enforce prompt repair and regeneration of lost cells to restore back the function.
Thus, a unique approach of treating degenerative disorders like Optic Neuritis with the help of allogenic administration of mesenchymal stem cells have definitely proven to be very critical in transforming bench side discovery into beneficial therapy.