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Visual problems

Multiple sclerosis can affect vision in several ways. Problems with sight can be an early symptom of MS.

Optic neuritis

Optic neuritis is a common eye problem in MS. It is the first symptom that affects about one in five people with MS experience. It is caused by damage to the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. An episode of optic neuritis usually occurs in one eye only.  It commonly causes blind spots or areas of poor vision surrounded by an area of normal vision. Colour vision can also be severely affected. Frequently there is pain, particularly during eye movement.

Read more about optic neuritis

Double vision (diplopia)

Double vision occurs when the nerve pathways that control eye movements are damaged so that the eyes are not aligned properly.  This may be an early symptom of MS.

Read more about double vision (diplopia)

Nystagmus

Nystagmus is a symptom in which the eyes move in an involuntary, rhythmical manner, from side to side or up and down.

Read more about nystagmus

Last reviewed: January 2016
This page will be reviewed within three years

More references

  • Compston A, et al (eds). McAlpine's Multiple Sclerosis. 4th ed. London: Churchill Livingstone; 2005.

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