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Inflammatory and Infectious Optic Neuropathies


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Inflammatory and infectious optic neuropathies occur when there is an abnormality or damage of the optic (vision) nerve. Certain types of optic neuropathies are related to an infectious agent. Several types of infectious agents can cause optic neuropathies, such as:

  • Bartonella henselae: A common bacteria that causes cat scratch fever, which can result in retinal and/or optic nerve inflammation. Classic exposure is related to cats but in some cases, a history of exposure is not present.
  • Toxoplasmosis: This condition is caused by Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that is usually spread through poorly cooked food or cat feces. The condition can cause retinal inflammation and in some cases inflammation of the optic nerve head (entrance of the optic nerve into the eye).
  • Other agents: Other less common infectious agents that can cause infectious optic neuropathy includes Lyme disease, Zika virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Varicella zoster virus (chicken pox, shingles), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus, or Herpes simplex virus.

The experienced specialists at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, can help you effectively manage these conditions and, thus, minimize the symptoms of any resulting optic problems. The main symptom of infectious optic neuropathies is increasingly worse vision loss.


Comprehensive Exam - Your doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination of your eyes – as well as gather a complete health history – to determine if you have inflammatory and infectious optic neuropathy.

Blood Test - Your doctor may recommend you undergo a blood test to check for the underlying cause of your inflammatory and infectious optic neuropathy.

Optical coherence tomography - The test measures the thickness of the cell layers and nerve fibers that make up the optic nerves to check for optic nerve damage.

Optic nerve photos - The test documents the amount of optic nerve swelling.

Visual field - A visual field test assesses both central and peripheral vision.


Medication - Your doctor will need to treat the underlying cause of your optic neuropathy. Therefore, if an infection has caused the condition, he or she will likely prescribe an antibiotic, antiviral, or antiparasitic medication to clear up the infection.

Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?

Ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute is the top-rated facility in the country for the treatment of diseases and disorders of the eye, according to U.S. News & World Report. When you choose us for your vision care, you receive exceptional care in a compassionate environment.

Coordinated, multidisciplinary care. Backed by a major university health system, your eye care team has access to skilled doctors representing every medical specialty. This is important when your underlying health condition affects your vision.

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