If fatigue can be listed as the most prevalent symptom of multiple sclerosis, then surely vision issues must be very high on the list of presented symptoms at diagnosis.
When we think of MS “vision issues” most of us jump to optic neuritis (ON): inflammation or demyelination of the optic nerve. While that makes sense as it’s the MS vision problem most talked about, ON isn’t the limit of what MS can do to our sight.
Many of our (ok, I’m speaking as the guy who probably had symptoms back into my high school years) symptoms go ignored by us or are misdiagnosed by the medical profession. Wake up in the morning with “acute blurring, graying (change in color saturation), or loss of vision, most often in only one eye” or pain which “can be of several types — dull and aching, pressure-like, or sharp and piercing” and there is no ignoring.
I’ve heard from many that it was their eye doctor who referred them to see a neurologist for an MS consult, not their primary care providers.
Other vision problems are associated with MS, one of which I experienced over this past weekend for the first time.
The uncontrolled horizontal or vertical eye movement is called nystagmus. Nystagmus can present itself as a “shaking” of our field of vision, which can look like the inability to focus. Someone looking at your eyes can often see them quaking as you try to focus on a stationary object in space. One who hasn’t experienced nystagmus can only imagine how frightening — and dangerous — that can be to live with.
I did not have my eyes quaking in their sockets. I experienced diplopia or “double vision” which is thought to be caused by misguided muscles rather than the optic nerve itself.
This makes sense if I think about how the muscles in my hands, arm, leg and other parts of my body are affected. If I cannot hold my arm steady for my tremor of intent, I can totally understand that it could happen to my eyes, which need a much more fine control to stay on track.
My double vision episode lasted but a couple of hours and, as recommended, eased with rest and with closing my eyes for a short while. I’ll not say that I napped; my brain was far too aware of what might be happening to me to allow for real rest. I do, however, feel like I’ve been walking gingerly through the first part of this week in response.
It’s as if something new has jumped out of a dark corner of this haunted hallway we tread and I have responded by walking on tipped toes with my body crouched and arms half-cocked in anticipation of the next beastie around the next misty bend.
This symptom caught me off guard and it frightened me.
We don’t often share symptoms of vision in these pages. Maybe it’s time to have a go of it…
Wishing you and your family the best of health.