Vision problems are one of the most common symptoms and a potential early sign of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Symptoms may include: temporary vision loss or disturbance with the possibility of pain while moving eyes (Optic Neuritis); double vision (Diplopia), blurred vision, and uncontrolled rapid eye movements (Nystagmus). Learning how to cope with, live with, and manage your vision problems is very critical in managing your daily life and routines while early diagnosis and proper treatments can prevent or reduce long term visual damages and their severity.
Several treatment options are available and may be prescribed by your doctor depending on the type of your visual problem and its severity, and your personal health and physical condition. Understanding the type of your vision problems will help you better cope with them and mitigate their occurrence frequencies:
Optic Neuritis is caused by the inflammation of the optic nerve and usually occurs in one eye only. This may lead to blurred vision, loss of color vision, and painful eye movements. Although Optic Neuritis may cause a loss of vision, vision is usually recovered and the symptoms will go away. There are several treatment options to help to speed up your recovery:
1- Consult with your doctor, identify and avoid triggers worsening your vision problems such as, fatigue, warm environments, lack of sleep, and extreme temperatures.
2- Your doctor may decide to speed up your recovery and delay a second demyelination occurrence by medications such as, steroids, Prednisone pills, or plasma exchange.
3- Rest your eyes and relax whenever possible!
Diplopia or Double Vision is caused by the inflammation of the nerves controlling eye movements and leads to double vision and seeing two of everything. It's very important to consult with your doctor to find the best possible treatment options available to you:
1- Your doctors may prescribe you steroids or other medications. Although steroids are not considered long-term treatments, they may speed up your recovery. Several side effects could be associated with using steroids, including: increased heart rate, stomach issues, mood changes, increased appetite, insomnia, etc. These symptoms are usually mild and go away shortly after your treatment. Please contact with your doctor immediately if these symptoms are serious or won't disappear.
2- Although permanent patching of one eye is not recommended, patching one eye while reading, driving, etc. could l mitigate or stop your double vision. It's very important to ask your doctor about the necessity and the best instructions of patching your eye.
3- Your doctor may also prescribe you special eyeglasses with special prisms to help you minimize your double vision and reduce your dizziness. He/she may also consider Strabismus surgery as a treatment option.
4- Fatigue may increase your double vision while getting some rest could improve it.
Nystagmus is caused by the inflammation in the brainstem and damages to the brain structures controlling eye movements. It includes uncontrolled, rapid, and involuntary eye movements (usually painless). Although the person affected by Nystagmus is not usually aware of it, it could be troublesome and lead to dizziness, feeling unbalanced, and having serious vision problems.
1- Depending on the patterns of Nysragmus and your general health conditions, your doctor may prescribe you medications such as Clonazapam, Gabapentin , etc.
2- Eyeglasses with special prisms, Botox injection, and surgery may be prescribed by your doctor as other treatment options in severe case of Nystagmus.
It's very important to discuss your vision problems and available treatment options with your neurologist, physician, or healthcare provider first and before taking any treatment option into consideration.
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