Journal of Neurology

, Volume 266, Issue 5, pp 1160–1166 | Cite as

Color perception impairment following optic neuritis and its association with retinal atrophy

  • Netta LevinEmail author
  • Michael Devereux
  • Atira Bick
  • Nick Baker
  • Ari Green
Original Communication



Emphasis is often placed on the good recovery of vision following optic neuritis (ON). However, patients continue to perceive difficulties in performing everyday visual tasks and have reduced visual quality of life. This is in addition to documented permanent loss of retinal volume.


Seventy-five subjects following monocular ON (> 3 months prior to assessment), were evaluated by the Rabin cone contrast test (CCT). Red, green and blue cone contrast scores were extracted for the affected and fellow eyes. Retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) and macular volume (MV) were assessed using optical coherence tomography.


Fifty-seven patients had multiple sclerosis and 17 had clinically isolated syndrome. Median time from ON to evaluation was 47 months. Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) ranged between 0 and 6.5 with average of 2 ± 1.3. Cone contrast scores for red, green and blue in the affected eyes were significantly lower than in the fellow eyes. RNFL thickness and MV were reduced in the affected compared to the fellow eyes. Positive correlations between CCT and RNFL were found in both eyes, but much stronger in the affected eyes (r = 0.72, 0.74, 0.5 and 0.53, 0.58, 0.46 for red green and blue in each eye, respectively). Positive correlations between CCT and MV were found in both eyes, but only modestly stronger in the affected eyes.


Impaired chromatic discrimination thresholds quantitatively document persistent functional complaints after ON. There is evidence of dysfunction in both the affected eye and the fellow eye.


Optic neuritis Multiple sclerosis Color perception Retinal nerve fiber layer Macular volume OCT 



Netta Levin and Ari Green thank the Feldman foundation for their support for Professor Levin’s sabbatical at UCSF.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Neuroinflammation and Glial Biology, Department of NeurologyUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Neuro-ophthalmology Division, Department of OphthalmologyUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.fMRI Unit, Department of NeurologyHadassah Hebrew University Medical CenterJerusalemIsrael

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