A new study published in Neurology has found that in patients with multiple sclerosis, vitamin D status may relate to acute optic neuritis severity but not to recovery.
Acute optic neuritis (AON) is an inflammatory condition that occurs in the nerve fibers that communicate information between the eye and the brain. It is characterized by color blindness, vision loss, and pain in the eye.
AON is common in people with multiple sclerosis, a disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the covering of the body’s nerves. AON is often the first symptom that is present in those with multiple sclerosis, where the immune system attacks the optic nerves.
Vitamin D’s role in multiple sclerosis is well-established. Research suggests that maintaining healthy vitamin D levels helps slow progression of multiple sclerosis and help manage some aspects of the condition.
To further explore the diverse roles that vitamin D plays in multiple sclerosis, researchers recently conducted a study to determine if vitamin D status was related to AON.
For this study, the researchers were interested in evaluating factors that may relate to severity and recovery of AON, such as age, gender and vitamin D status. For vitamin D, they looked at 101 patients who had their vitamin D levels tested within six months of an AON attack.
The researchers found that 52.5% of the patients had a moderate attack and 35.6% had a severe attack. They also found that 90.1% of this group had a full recovery from the attack.
According to their results, vitamin D status was significantly related to the severity of attack. Male gender, more severe attacks, and older age were related to worse recovery from AON, while vitamin D status was not related to recovery.
“No previous study has specifically investigated the importance of vitamin D in severity of AON, and our results support the hypothesis that low vitamin D levels are related to worse multiple sclerosis disease course,” the researchers stated.
The researchers call for future studies using larger samples to further evaluate the role that vitamin D may play in AON attack severity.