Found this interesting since I have had no visual symptoms yet. I have yearly exams and my optometrist knows I have MS so he does more extensive tests but I wonder if that's enough. I've always had bad eyes but they do seem a little worse over the last few years.
Vision Deteriorates Even Without Sight-Related Symptoms in Patients With MS: Presented at ARVO
By Ed Susman
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla -- May 5, 2009 -- Researchers suggest that clinicians make a point of checking patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) for diminished vision even when the patients have not experienced any vision-related symptoms such as optic neuritis.
The study was presented here on May 3 at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) 2009 Annual Meeting.
"Our findings suggest a subclinical axonal loss in the anterior vision pathways of patients with multiple sclerosis that occurs without symptoms," said lead author Esther Bisker, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
More precise studies that can reveal vision loss, such as low-contrast acuity tests, will help identify patients who may have deteriorating sight.
"Our study indicates that these tests should be performed among all patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, not just those with a history of vision complications," said Dr. Bisker.
She stated that visual dysfunction and axonal loss commonly occur with MS and that optical coherence tomography has enabled researchers to see the unique correlations between structure and function of the anterior visual pathway in this disease.
The researchers followed 1,011 patients in the MS treatment programs at the University of Pennsylvania; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland; and University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas.
High-contrast and low-contrast visual acuity were checked at 6- and 12-month intervals, and optical coherence tomography was used to determine differences in thickness of the retinal nerve fibre layer. The final analysis involved 336 patients.
The patients were separated into 2 study groups -- 1 involving 428 eyes of patients who did not experience optic neuritis and the other involving 220 eyes of patients who did experience optic neuritis. Patients had a mean age of 44 years, and 85% were diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS.
Worsening of low-contrast acuity was noted in 74 eyes (29%) of people with a history of optic neuritis, whereas similar worsening of low-contrast acuity was seen in 638 eyes (35%) of patients who had no history of optic neuritis.
Dr. Bisker said the difference did not rise to statistical significance but underscored that clinicians need to be aware that visual deterioration is ongoing in MS.
Funding for this study was provided by the National MS Society and the National Eye Institute.
[Presentation title: Clinical and Ocular Imaging Characteristics of Eyes With Visual Loss Over Time in Multiple Sclerosis. Abstract 927-D709]