Trends in Optic Neuritis Incidence and Prevalence in the UK and Association With Systemic and Neurologic Disease.

Braithwaite, Tasanee, Subramanian, Anuradhaa, Petzold, Axel, Galloway, James, Adderley, Nicola J, Mollan, Susan P, Plant, Gordon T, Nirantharakumar, Krishnarajah and Denniston, Alastair K (2020) Trends in Optic Neuritis Incidence and Prevalence in the UK and Association With Systemic and Neurologic Disease. JAMA neurology. ISSN 2168-6157. Available in full text to UHB OpenAthens account holders.

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Epidemiologic data on optic neuritis (ON) incidence and associations with immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs) are sparse.


To estimate 22-year trends in ON prevalence and incidence and association with IMIDs in the United Kingdom.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This cohort study analyzed data from The Health Improvement Network from January 1, 1995, to September 1, 2019. The study included 10 937 511 patients 1 year or older with 75.2 million person-years' follow-up. Annual ON incidence rates were estimated yearly (January 1, 1997, to December 31, 2018), and annual ON prevalence was estimated by performing sequential cross-sectional studies on data collected on January 1 each year for the same period. Data for 1995, 1996, and 2019 were excluded as incomplete. Risk factors for ON were explored in a cohort analysis from January 1, 1997, to December 31, 2018. Matched case-control and retrospective cohort studies were performed using data from January 1, 1995, to September 1, 2019, to explore the odds of antecedent diagnosis and hazard of incident diagnosis of 66 IMIDs in patients compared with controls.


Optic neuritis.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Annual point prevalence and incidence rates of ON, adjusted incident rate ratios (IRRs) for risk factors, and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for 66 IMIDs.


A total of 10 937 511 patients (median [IQR] age at cohort entry, 32.6 [18.0-50.4] years; 5 571 282 [50.9%] female) were studied. A total of 1962 of 2826 patients (69.4%) with incident ON were female and 1192 of 1290 92.4%) were White, with a mean (SD) age of 35.6 (15.6) years. Overall incidence across 22 years was stable at 3.7 (95% CI, 3.6-3.9) per 100 000 person-years. Annual point prevalence (per 100 000 population) increased with database maturity, from 69.3 (95% CI, 57.2-81.3) in 1997 to 114.8 (95% CI, 111.0-118.6) in 2018. The highest risk of incident ON was associated with female sex, obesity, reproductive age, smoking, and residence at higher latitude, with significantly lower risk in South Asian or mixed race/ethnicity compared with White people. Patients with ON had significantly higher odds of prior multiple sclerosis (MS) (OR, 98.22; 95% CI, 65.40-147.52), syphilis (OR, 5.76; 95% CI, 1.39-23.96), Mycoplasma (OR, 3.90; 95% CI, 1.09-13.93), vasculitis (OR, 3.70; 95% CI, 1.68-8.15), sarcoidosis (OR, 2.50; 95% CI, 1.21-5.18), Epstein-Barr virus (OR, 2.29; 95% CI, 1.80-2.92), Crohn disease (OR, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.13-3.43), and psoriasis (OR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.03-1.58). Patients with ON had a significantly higher hazard of incident MS (HR, 284.97; 95% CI, 167.85-483.81), Behçet disease (HR, 17.39; 95% CI, 1.55-195.53), sarcoidosis (HR, 14.80; 95% CI, 4.86-45.08), vasculitis (HR, 4.89; 95% CI, 1.82-13.10), Sjögren syndrome (HR, 3.48; 95% CI, 1.38-8.76), and herpetic infection (HR, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.24-2.28).

Conclusions and Relevance

The UK incidence of ON is stable. Even though predominantly associated with MS, ON has numerous other associations with IMIDs. Although individually rare, together these associations outnumber MS-associated ON and typically require urgent management to preserve sight.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Available in full text to UHB OpenAthens account holders.
Subjects: WW Eyes. Ophthalmology
Divisions: Ambulatory Care > Ophthalmology
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Mr Philip O'Reilly
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2020 10:16
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2021 10:37

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