When you have MS, it is your nerves that are affected as well as how they send signals out to your body when it comes to movement and other body functions. One of these functions that become affected by the MS is your vision. Affected eyesight is a common enough problem in people with multiple sclerosis and rarely does full blindness occur.
There are several different types of vision problems that typically happen to people who have MS. You may be lucky enough to escape vision problems early in your prognosis but you can bet that at some point, your vision will be affected. Here is what you might expect:
1. Optic Neuritis This fancy name describes inflammation of the optic nerve. This nerves job is to broadcast light and visual images to the brain for processing and is the primary reason why you see. Over half of the people with MS will have at least one incident of optic neuritis and often times, it is the first indicator of the disease. However, not everyone who gets optic neuritis actually has MS, but it is a huge sign of it.
The symptoms you can expect with optic neuritis when it first presents itself are graying of your vision, blurred vision and even blindness in one eye. It is definitely uncommon for both eyes to become blind and rarely does pain accompany these symptoms. Losing your vision can take a few days and may worsen before it gets better. Of course, it could take several weeks to several months before the optic neuritis resolves. Many times, it takes the intervention of intravenous steroids or even the pill form in order to reduce the inflammation.
2. Uncontrolled or jumpy eye movements Nystagmus is the scientific term for when your eyes get uncontrollable vertical or horizontal eye movements. Sometimes it is just mild and annoying while in other instances can be enough to hinder your vision significantly. Doctors may prescribe special medications or even the use of special prisms to help make up for some of the visual shortcomings caused by this condition.
3. Double vision When MS symptoms become exacerbated and muscle become weak, your eyes could become affected. Double vision is the result of the pair of eye muscles which control eye movement becoming weak enough that they cannot support the coordination of both muscles at the same time. Double vision can be perturbing but will resolve on its own when you are feeling stronger.
4. Temporary Blindness When your MS symptoms become exacerbated, you may lose vision in one eye and sometimes both eyes, although that is rare. Usually, within a day or so, the condition resolves itself but it may be rather scary if it has never happened to you previously. Usually optic neuritis is the cause of this temporary blindness.
While losing your vision is scary, take note that MS rarely causes permanent blindness. Unfortunately, you are a prisoner of your own body and cannot control the magnitude of weakness that can occur with MS flare-ups. However, you can control your own health by taking your medication and getting plenty of rest. The vision problems will eventually resolve themselves.