BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Acute optic neuritis [ON] is an inflammatory condition affecting the optic nerve. Clinicians should suspect optic neuritis in cases of painful and rapidly progressive loss of central visual field. This condition may be associated with a multitude of diseases, and mostly with multiple sclerosis [MS] where it may present as an initial symptom. The literature reports that optic neuritis and MS occur in patients with inflammatory bowel disease [IBD] before and after the era of anti-tumour necrosis factor-α [TNFα] drugs. At the present moment, there is little consensus for managing this complication, currently treated with corticosteroids and discontinuation of the causative agents.
METHODS: We collected cases through a retrospective multicentre European Crohn's and Colitis Organisation CONFER [COllaborative Network For Exceptionally Rare case reports] project. We also performed a comprehensive retrospective search of the available literature on this topic.
RESULTS: We report herein 12 new cases of ON, including 10 under anti-TNF therapy, collected through the CONFER project. We also compare characteristics of ON associated or not with anti-TNFα agents.
CONCLUSIONS: The exceptional and current observation of distant family history of MS in 17% of our patients who developed ON, despite the small number and the lack of a control arm, might be an important signal that should be taken into account in our therapeutic strategies in the future.