Epilepsy Drug, Optic Neuritis, and Multiple Sclerosis Patients

A new study to be presented during the American Academy of Neurology’s 67th Annual Meeting, April 24, in Washington, DC, explores the use of phenytoin, a drug commonly used to treat epilepsy, as a novel treatment for acute optic neuritis, a severe eye complication of multiple sclerosis (MS) that affects approximately half of patients. A team of researchers from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, England led by Dr. Raj Kapoor treated MS patients suffering from acute optic neuritis with phenytoin and observed the effect it had on treating the complication.


MS is a disease characterized by the destruction of insulating covers on nerve cells by the immune system. One of its complications is acute optic neuritis, in which the nerve carrying vision from the eye to the brain (optic nerve) becomes inflamed, causing sudden total or partial loss of vision, blurred or foggy vision and pain. Although the vast majority of patients recover eyesight in 2 to 3 months, each attack causes some degree of long term damage to the optic nerve and the eye, and also dramatically impacts quality of life.