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Brevard ophthalmologist: Multiple sclerosis affects vision

Patients with MS frequently have visual symptoms. The ophthalmologist is often the first physician consulted

When optic nerves become inflamed with demyelination, pain frequently follows as well as vision abnormalities including blurry images, flashings, loss of color vision, depth perception problems and dark spots centered in visual fields. Vision loss may occur, though usually in only one eye at a time. Fortunately, except in rare cases, normal vision returns when the inflammation subsides. The exceptions usually involve color and diminished depth perception.

Optic neuritis is frequently the first manifestation of MS. Half of all individuals diagnosed with MS initially complained about a vision problem. Up to 75 percent of female patients and 35 percent of male patients diagnosed with optic neuritis ultimately develop multiple sclerosis.

Typically, patients initially diagnosed with optic neuritis are adults aged 20 to 45. The condition appears to affect Caucasians more commonly than it does other races. Women are affected twice as often as men. Medical researchers attribute these differences to genes that makes individuals more susceptible to develop optic neuritis.

Double vision is a frequent symptom of MS. Demyelination in the brain can affect its ability to coordinate eye movements. Damage from MS causes paralysis of nerves that control individual eye muscles. Jerky or dancing eye movement, nystagmus, is often observed in MS patients. Patients with eye movement problems from MS typically complain of double vision, blurry vision or objects jumping.

A gradual recovery of vision with time is characteristic of optic neuritis patients, although permanent residual deficits in color vision and contrast and brightness sensitivity are common. Visual function begins to improve one week to several weeks after onset, even without treatment. Steroids do little to affect the ultimate visual acuity in patients with optic neuritis. Specific guidelines for steroid use in treatments of optic neuritis associated with MS have been established through a large clinical trial. Double vision is treated using prisms or an eye patch.

Although there is no proven cure for MS, we have recently seen tremendous advances in its treatment. Locally, we are fortunate to have many experienced neurologists available to consult on MS patients.

Dr. Frederick Ho is a board-certified ophthalmologist and medical director of Atlantic Eye MD and Atlantic Surgery and Laser Center, 8040 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne. For an appointment, call 321-757-7272. Learn more by visiting

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by FLORIDATODAY
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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