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Visual Impairment in Multiple Sclerosis

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Vision Problems; Neurological or Optical?

I have long had problems with my eyesight all of which can be attributed to my MS. How do I know this? Well, in truth, I don’t know for certain. I can only make assumptions based on the evidence I am able to perceive. Only a month or so before my first MS symptom appeared I had an eye test, I don’t recall why, but I do remember that my sight was adjudged to be nigh perfect. I just missed the 20:20 vision mark by the tiniest of fractions in one eye.

Within 3 months I was almost blind. Rest helped restore my vision, up to a point, which has never been perfect since.

I ended up wearing spectacles to correct my short-sightedness. I could not even focus on the TV without them and I certainly could not read road signs. Ironically, I could still read a book, as the distance was short enough that the my eyes were focussed.

Over the years, my vision has ebbed and flowed as the disease has continued to ravage my body. I went through spells of double-vision when I had to resort to wearing an eye patch to try and control the nausea brought about by the double-vision.

I then upgraded to varifocal glasses which helped both long and middle distance vision. AndI felt a little safer when driving. I have since stopped driving as I was in danger of becoming a hazard.

Steroid Treatment

Some time later I had a serious bout of vision problems; I could not focus on anything, what I did see was doubled up and I had practically no vision in my left eye. I consulted my GP who thought that a course of steroids may help but, she was very reluctant to prescribe them. She then spoke with my neurologist who concurred that a course of steroids would be beneficial. On the strength of this second opinion she agreed to prescribe prednisolone with very strict instruction on the dosage and timescale the drugs were to be administered. I began with immediate high dosage reducing dramatically over a few days. This short-sharp shock approach had the desired effect as my vision recovered within a week.

Dry Eye Syndrome

My vision stabilised and I could see reasonably well albeit with spectacles. I was called in to the optician for my routine eye-test and after much examination the optometrist decided I had what I would call Dry Eye Syndrome and gave me some cream to be applied to my eyes nightly and recommended that I begin bathing my eyes with a hot compress.

On discussing these events with my family it transpired that both my sister and father have similar eye problems.

The hot compress took the form of a face flannel soaked in hot water (as hot as I could bear with my hands) and then applied to my eyes for several minutes. The flannel was refreshed with hot water and reapplied several times to stimulate glands in the eyelid to produce lubrication. I did not know these glands existed. But a quick Google search reveals that these glands are known as Meibomian Glands. The effect was astonishing. After a few weeks, I could feel my eyes were moister, my vision was improved and more importantly the improvement seems to have longevity. My eyes have remained moist and the feeling of sand in my eyes has vanished and not recurred.


Having reported all this, how has my opinion changed? I have recently adopted a revolutionary new diet which is having remarkable benefits, not least a marked improvement with my visual faculties. This reinforces my opinion that the visual impairment is neurological rather than optical. I still have a long way to go but I am experiencing brief moments where my eyesight is good to the extent that I can watch TV without glasses.



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