Multiple sclerosis: are my eye problems a symptom of MS?

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I woke up with a sore left eye, and vision in that eye became a bit blurry. The eye hurt when I looked to the side or up. After 24 hours, I went to casualty and was told I had inflammation of the optic nerve. I was not treated, and was told that it would recover within a few weeks. It did, but when I looked this up on the internet I saw that it can be a first sign of multiple sclerosis.

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

The optic nerve transmits information from the back of the eye to the brain. If it becomes inflamed, it is called optic neuritis; it sounds like this is what happened. It is sometimes the first symptom of an attack of multiple sclerosis, but it can occur for other reasons. The symptoms vary from mild to severe. At the mild end, it causes very slight pain, with some disturbance of vision; blurring, or sometimes loss of colour vision. It can cause flashes of light, double vision or, if it is very severe, complete loss of vision. It does not usually cause severe pain.

If you are over 50, it is unlikely this was this first sign of MS. If you are younger, MS is more likely to be the cause. A specialist neurologist might investigate further. An MRI brain-scan would detect any signs of MS. Even if MS is the cause, it is hard to predict when you might get another attack.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.

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