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Looking into the Eye - MS and Vision

Posted Nov 17 2009 10:20pm

If you've ever had double or blurred vision, eye pain or any visual limitations, you're not alone. Up to 80% of people living with relapsing MS have, or have experienced vision difficulties.1In fact, a vision problem is often one of the first symptoms of relapsing MS. Read on to learn more about MS and vision.

Why does MS Affect My Eyes?
MS is a disease of the central nervous system, which includes the optic nerve—the nerve that transmits light and visual images to the brain. Three visual disorders associated with MS are:

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Optic Neuritis
An inflammation of the optic nerve that can cause sudden loss of vision, usually in one eye, blurred vision and eye pain. It is the most common MS-related vision problem.
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Nystagmus
Uncontrolled horizontal or vertical eye movements.
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Double Vision
Occurs when muscles that control eye movement weaken. This can cause you to see a double image. Double vision may worsen with fatigue.

Another cause of vision impairment could be a rise in body temperature, whether from strenuous exercise, a hot bath or the weather. Heat-related vision difficulties usually diminish after you cool off.

Treating Vision Problems
Vision problems are often temporary and heal on their own. Steroids are sometimes prescribed for optic neuritis. Resting your eyes periodically throughout the day and/or wearing an eye patch can help reduce double vision.

1. Robinson I, Rose FC.Managing Your Multiple Sclerosis. London:
Class Publishing; 2004; 141


Learn more about the treatment of and prognosis for vision problems from Dr. Tariq Bhatti, an expert on MS and vision.

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