An Inflammatory, Autoimmune, and Degenerative Disease that Affects Your Vision

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of unknown origin that attacks the central nervous system which consists of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.

Multiple sclerosis:

  • Debuts between the ages of 20-40
  • Affects twice as many women as men
  • Impedes vision, but rarely causes blindness
  • Often causes numbness in the limbs or paralysis

Visual Symptoms Linked to Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis affects the vision of each person differently, and its progress, severity and symptoms can be unpredictable.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 55% of people with MS experience optic neuritis, or inflammation of the optic nerve. The optic nerve transmits light and visual images to the brain and is responsible for vision. While optic neuritis is very often the first sign of MS, it should not be an indicator that a person has or will have the disease.

Lesions of the eye have also been linked to the visual symptoms that occur in MS. Lesions are damages to the eye that affect the nerve pathways that control eye movement and visual coordination.

Patients who suffer from visual symptoms associated with MS may experience:

  • Blurred or graying vision
  • Loss of vision in one eye
  • Uncontrolled horizontal or vertical eye movements called nystagmus
  • Scotomas or dark spots in the visual field.
  • Double vision or diplopia

How to Treat Visual Symptoms in MS

Patients who experience any of the visual symptoms of MS should contact their primary eye care doctor immediately for a complete eye exam. Each person’s treatment is unique and should be supervised carefully under an eye doctor’s care. In general,

  • It is rare that MS affects both eyes simultaneously
  • Patients experience little pain
  • Loss of vision worsens over a few days before it gets better
  • Treatment last between 4-12 weeks
  • Optic neuritis is generally treated with intravenous methylprednisolone along with oral steroids and has a good recovery rate among patients.
  • The visual deficits of nystagmus and opsoclonus, jumping vision, can be mild or severe and may be treated with medications and special prisms
  • Patients who experience double vision as a result of multiple sclerosis can be aided with rest, time, corticosteroids, and patching of the eye

The effect of MS on a person’s vision can be terrifying. Dr. Blair and his team of eye care doctors help patients in the Burlington, Kentucky area deal with the visual symptoms of MS. Contact Primary Eye Care for a free consultation if you feel you may have the signs of MS.