Home - National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Skip to navigation Skip to content

Healthy Living with MS

MS and Vision

eye graphicA vision problem is the first symptom of MS for many people. The sudden onset of double vision, poor contrast, eye pain, or heavy blurring is frankly terrifying—and the knowledge that vision may be compromised makes people with MS anxious about the future. Fortunately, the prognosis for recovery from many vision problems associated with MS is good.
General Information
 Visual Symptoms
Describes optic neuritis (inflammation or lesions along the optic nerve), nystagmus (uncontrolled eye movements), and diplopia (double vision)
 Optic Neuritis
Generally experienced as an acute blurring, graying, or loss of vision, almost always in one eye

Vision Problems: The Basic Facts
Discusses primary MS-related eye problems

Visual Loss
About temporary blindness and "jumping vision." Discusses therapies and provides helpful links to national service organizations
Diagram of the eye
Living with MS-Related Vision Problems
If vision problems do persist, resulting in permanent low vision, there are resources and tools to help you adapt.

Living with Low Vision
Specific living/coping strategies

At Home with MS: Adapting to Your Environment
Designing your approach to life with MS
Service Dogs
With their acute sense of smell, dogs can provide you with more independence, helping you locate objects, places, and people
Coping with Vision Loss

Coping with Vision Loss: Maximizing What You Can See and Do
by Bill Chapman, EdD

Order through Amazon.com
This hormone may be useful in treating optic neuritis
Society-Funded Research
“Longitudinal assessment of visual function in multiple sclerosis” (Laura J. Balcer, MD)
Tracking changes in visual function and quality of life over time in people with MS
"Structural and functional assessment of optic nerve damage in MS patients" (Han Cheng, PhD) Developing a test for evaluating nerve fiber damage in the optic nerve as an indicator of MS progression

If you have any of the symptoms described here, it is important that you have an eye checkup and/or consult with your MS healthcare specialist. For information about the resources available through the Society, please contact your chapter at 1-800-FIGHT-MS.


webcast icon Webcast
(transcript available)

MS Learn Online presents
Managing Your Symptoms

Vision Problems

Learn more about this and other webcasts

Clinical Bulletin Clinical Bulletin

Print out the document below and share it with your heathcare provider.

Diagnosis and Management of Vision Problems in MS (PDF)


Adapting Your Home

If you or someone in your home is living with MS, the whole household is living with MS.

Get your family members in the habit of leaving doors either opened or closed all the way, so you don't run into or reach for unstable partially opened doors.

Read more tips on adapting your home


Maybe It Isn't MS

Visual difficulties are common. Age, allergies, other medical conditions, even side effects of certain medications, can affect your vision. Be sure to have a regular eye check up every two to four years if you are over 40—and every year if you are over 65.


Assistive Technology from National Institute for Rehabilitation Engineering (NIRE)

Assistive Technology for People with Low-Vision or Reduced Visual Acuity

Eyeglasses for People with Vertical Eye Movement Disorders

Functional Help for People Having Retinal Scotomas

Helping People Who Have Double Vision (Diplopia)

Information About Impaired Night Vision (Night Blindness)

Vision Aids for People with Impaired Peripheral Vision or Tunnel Vision

Vision Aids for People Having Homonymous Hemianopsia

Vision Aids for People Sighted in One Eye (Monocular Vision)

Vision Aids for People with Impaired Color Perception (or Color Blind)

  Last updated May 1, 2007