Posted by: juliegriffey | February 27, 2011

Vision Testing for Multiple Sclerosis

A new detection method for MS?

A new detection method for MS?

Multiple Sclerosis (or MS) is a condition where the body’s own immune system causes damage to healthy nerves. It affects nearly 400,000 Americans, most of whom are between the ages of 20-40.

While MS is not a fatal disease, MS symptoms (muscle spasms, pain, fatigue, vision problems and balance/coordination problems) can negatively affect quality of life.  Early MS symptoms can be associated with other conditions which makes MS very difficult to diagnose.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University  have developed a 5 minute eye exam that could be used to help detect MS called Optical Coherence Tomography or (OCT) which works in the following manner.

“The optic nerve, which is behind the eye, is actually part of the brain. In fact, it’s the only part of the brain you can see from the outside. A common early warning sign that you may have MS is vision problems that originate in the optic nerve. So a damaged optic nerve becomes a perfect place to look for early MS.”
— Dr. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent

Before this method was developed the only way to diagnose MS was to have an MRI done. However an MRI is expensive ($500 – $3500) and time consuming (about 50 minutes).   The OCT test has been proven to be nearly as effective as an MRI and is much quicker at a lower cost ($150). The OCT test is also more sensitive. It can detect very subtle changes so it can be used earlier than an MRI.


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