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MS research update - Sight problems in benign MS - 26 January 2012

About 15 – 20% of people with MS have the benign form. This means that they have very occasional relapses and these are usually very mild with good recovery. In between are long periods with very few symptoms – perhaps none at all.

Clinically, benign MS can be defined as an EDSS score of three, or less than three, along with more than 15 years since symptoms first started. An EDSS (Expanded Disability Status Scale) score of three is given to someone who can walk without anything to help but who has moderate disability in one functional system or mild disability in three or four functional systems. Eight functional systems are defined in the EDSS scale including visual function, sensory function (numbness or loss of sensations) and pyramidal function (weakness or difficulty moving the limbs).

This research project looked at how the nerves from the retina at the back of the eye (known as the retinal nerve fibre layer or RNFL) might be affected in benign MS and how this might relate to problems with sight and quality of life.

13 out of 68 people (19%) already taking part in a long term study of visual problems were found to have benign MS. They had the same amount of thinning to the nerve fibre layer at the back of the eye as people with other types of MS. Both groups had significant difficulties in sight tests where they had to distinguish objects from similarly coloured or shaded backgrounds in low light conditions. This is known as low-contrast acuity loss.

People with benign MS were more likely (69%) to have had optic neutitis than people with other types of MS (33%).

The researchers concluded that sight problems account for a large part of the disability of people with benign MS. However, overall neurological symptoms were mild which gave them a rather misleadingly low EDSS score.

Galetta KM, Graves J, Talman LS, et al.
Visual pathway axonal loss in benign multiple sclerosis: a longitudinal study.
J Neuroophthalmol. 2012 Jan 20. [Epub ahead of print]


Research by topic areas...

Symptoms and symptom management

Dias RA, Hardin KA, Rose H, et al.
Sleepiness, fatigue, and risk of obstructive sleep apnea using the STOP-BANG questionnaire in multiple sclerosis: a pilot study.
Sleep Breath. 2012 Jan 21. [Epub ahead of print]

Sponsler JL, Kendrick-Adey AC., et al.
Seizures as a manifestation of multiple sclerosis.
Epileptic Disord. 2011 Dec;13(4):401-10.

Disease modifying treatments

Owens T, Evangelou N, Whynes DK.
Rationing and deprivation: disease-modifying therapies for multiple sclerosis in the United Kingdom.
Eur J Health Econ. 2012 Jan 24. [Epub ahead of print]

Lang C, Reiss C, Mäurer M.
Natalizumab may improve cognition and mood in multiple sclerosis.
Eur Neurol. 2012 Jan 20;67(3):162-166. [Epub ahead of print]

Riñon A, Buch M, Holley D, et al.
The MS Choices Survey: findings of a study assessing physician and patient perspectives on living with and managing multiple sclerosis.
Patient Prefer Adherence. 2011;5:629-43.

La Mantia L, Vacchi L, Di Pietrantonj C, et al.
Interferon beta for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Jan 18;1:CD005181.

Giovannoni G, Southam E, Waubant E.
Systematic review of disease-modifying therapies to assess unmet needs in multiple sclerosis: tolerability and adherence.
Mult Scler. 2012 Jan 16. [Epub ahead of print]


Kannappan R, Gupta SC, Kim JH, et al.
Neuroprotection by spice-derived nutraceuticals: you are what you eat!
Mol Neurobiol. 2011 Oct;44(2):142-59.

Messmer Uccelli M, Specchia C, et al.
Factors that influence the employment status of people with multiple sclerosis: a multi-national study.
J Neurol. 2009 Dec;256(12):1989-96.


Basteris A, De Luca A, Sanguineti V, et al.
A tailored exercise of manipulation of virtual tools to treat upper limb impairment in multiple sclerosis.
IEEE Int Conf Rehabil Robot. 2011 Jun;2011:1-5.

Bastiaens H, Alders G, Feys P, et al.
Facilitating robot-assisted training in MS patients with arm paresis: A procedure to individually determine gravity compensation.
IEEE Int Conf Rehabil Robot. 2011 Jun;2011:1-6.

Co-existing conditions

Loebermann M, Winkelmann A, Hartung HP, et al.
Vaccination against infection in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Nat Rev Neurol. 2012 Jan 24. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2012.8. [Epub ahead of print]

Quality of life

Trojan DA, Kaminska M, Bar-Or A, et al.
Polysomnographic measures of disturbed sleep are associated with reduced quality of life in multiple sclerosis.
J Neurol Sci. 2012 Jan 16. [Epub ahead of print]

Causes of MS

Wingerchuk DM.
Smoking: effects on multiple sclerosis susceptibility and disease progression.
Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2012 Jan;5(1):13-22.

Munger KL, Levin LI, O'Reilly EJ, et al.
Anti-Epstein-Barr virus antibodies as serological markers of multiple sclerosis: a prospective study among United States military personnel.
Mult Scler. 2011 Oct;17(10):1185-93.

Psychological aspects

Amato MP, Hakiki B, Goretti B, et al.
Association of MRI metrics and cognitive impairment in radiologically isolated syndromes.
Neurology. 2012 Jan 18. [Epub ahead of print]

Physical activity

Heremans E, Nieuwboer A, Spildooren J, et al.
Cued motor imagery in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Neuroscience. 2012 Jan 8. [Epub ahead of print]

Hassan A, Ahlskog JE, Rodriguez M, et al.
Surgical therapy for multiple sclerosis tremor: a 12-year follow-up study.
Eur J Neurol. 2012 Jan 17. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2011.03626.x. [Epub ahead of print]


Foster M, Zivadinov R, Weinstock-Guttman B, et al.
Associations of moderate alcohol consumption with clinical and MRI measures in multiple sclerosis.
J Neuroimmunol. 2012 Jan 17. [Epub ahead of print]


Miller DH, Chard DT, Ciccarelli O.
Clinically isolated syndromes.
Lancet Neurol. 2012 Feb;11(2):157-69.

Pregnancy and childbirth

Tsui A, Lee MA.
Multiple sclerosis and pregnancy.
Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Dec;23(6):435-9.


Boland P, Levack WM, Hudson S, et al.
Coping with multiple sclerosis as a couple: 'peaks and troughs' - an interpretative phenomenological exploration.
Disabil Rehabil. 2012 Jan 19. [Epub ahead of print]

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