Multiple sclerosis and visual symptoms

Visual symptoms are common among people with MS. But did you know that for some they are often the first associated symptoms they experience?

The human eye is quite possibly the most complex organ in our bodies. It consists of an intricate network of small, delicate parts which work in unison to send millions of messages per day to our brains. This information is then processed by the brain and translated into images – our vision.

Our vision is arguably our most important sense. It is our daily eye to the world (no pun intended) which helps us to perform the many tasks that we undertake on a daily basis. Eyesight is such a vital element of our quality of life that when it is impacted it can be a great source of anxiety.

For many, visual symptoms are the first signs of multiple sclerosis (MS), with a recent worldwide study finding that just over one third of people aged between 18 and 50 years old received an MS diagnosis within 10 years of being diagnosed with optic neuritis.

It follows that awareness of the different ways in which MS can impact vision is important, not least as they may be a helpful indicator for clinicians when assessing the wider health of their patients, including their risk of developing MS. Moreover, this awareness can help people with MS to identify the early signs of visual issues, which could lead to them receiving appropriate treatment without unnecessary delay. In some instances, early diagnosis and treatment can help people avoid more serious visual problems down the line.

There are three common visual symptoms that occur because of MS. These are optic neuritis, nystagmus and diplopia. Other symptoms include uveitis and dry eye syndrome. Our revised Visual Symptoms choices booklet provides an informative summary of each of these, underpinned by the latest scientific research. It includes information about how these symptoms present themselves, treatments and how to access appropriate support.

You can download and view our revised   booklet, and our full range of Choices booklets, free of charge on our website. Hard copies can also be ordered, again at no cost to you, by using our online order form.