BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Acute unilateral optic neuritis is associated with a thickening of the retrobulbar portion of the optic nerve as revealed by transorbital sonography, but no comparison has been made between nerve sheath diameter and optic nerve diameter in patients with acute optic neuritis versus healthy controls. We evaluated optic nerve sheath diameter and optic nerve diameter in patients with acute optic neuritis and healthy controls and compared optic nerve sheath diameter and optic nerve diameter with visual-evoked potentials in patients. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A case-control study was performed in 2 centers. Twenty-one consecutive patients with onset of visual loss during the prior 10 days and established acute noncompressive unilateral optic neuritis were compared with 21 healthy controls, matched for sex and age (+/- 5 years). Two experienced vascular sonographers performed the study by using B-mode transorbital sonography. Visual-evoked potentials were performed on the same day as the transorbital sonography and were evaluated by an expert neurophysiologist. Sonographers and the neurophysiologist were blinded to the status of the patient or control and to clinical information, including the side of the affected eye. RESULTS: The median optic nerve sheath diameter was thicker on the affected side (6.3 mm; interquartile range, 5.9-7.2 mm) compared with the nonaffected side (5.5 mm; interquartile range, 5.1-6.2 mm; P<.0001) and controls (5.2 mm; interquartile range, 4.8-5.5 mm; P<.0001). The median optic nerve diameter was 3.0 mm (range, 2.8-3.1 mm) on the affected side and 2.9 mm (range, 2.8-3.1 mm) on the nonaffected side (P = not significant.). Both sides were thicker than those in controls (2.7 mm; interquartile range, 2.5-2.8 mm; P=.001 and .009). No correlation was found between optic nerve sheath diameter and optic nerve diameter and amplitude and latency of visual-evoked potentials in patients with optic neuritis. CONCLUSIONS: Transorbital sonography is a promising toot to support the clinical diagnosis of acute optic neuritis. Further studies are needed to define its specific role in the diagnosis and follow-up of optic neuritis.