Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that causes your body to produce antibodies that mistakenly attack the myelin sheath protecting your nerve tissue. This chronic central nervous system disorder damages the nerves and causes the gradual loss of muscle control, strength, and vision.
Multiple sclerosis affects people differently. Some have only mild symptoms, while others are severely debilitated by the disease. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary widely and can include the following:
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms and legs
- Loss of vision
- Double vision
- Blurred vision
- Eye pain
- Difficulties with coordination
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor immediately. To determine if you have multiple sclerosis you will be given a neurological examination and, possibly, an MRI scan and other tests to diagnose the cause of your symptoms.
Should your doctor confirm that you have multiple sclerosis there are a number of treatment options. There are several medications that can help, as can physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other treatments.
Although there is no cure for multiple sclerosis the major causes of vision problems associated with the disease are all treatable and often resolve on their own. Three common visual problems associated with MS are:
- Optic neuritis , or inflammation of the optic nerve, causing blurring, pain, and blind spots, among other things
- Diplopia , or double vision
- Nystagmus , or involuntary movement of the eyes.
Steroid medications are commonly prescribed for all three conditions. Patching, prism eyeglasses, and perhaps surgery are also effective in treating double vision. Nystagmus may respond to some medications other than steroids, as well.