Ocular Motor Manifestations of Multiple Sclerosis

J Neuroophthalmol. 2017 Sep;37(3):332-340. doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000000507.


Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system leading to disability, especially in young patients. Acute or chronic lesions of MS within the brainstem and the cerebellum frequently result in ocular motor disorders.

Evidence acquisition: This review encompasses the spectrum of ocular motor disorders in patients with MS emphasizing prevalence, examination findings, diagnostic features, functional consequences, classification of MS course, and management of these disturbances of ocular motility.

Results: Ocular motor manifestations of MS can occur acutely in relapse or chronically, the latter as a consequence of previous relapses or as a chronic course of the disease. The most frequent and specific acute ocular motor manifestation is uni- or bilateral internuclear ophthalmoplegia (INO). The most frequent chronic manifestations include INO and cerebellar ocular motor disorders such as gaze-evoked nystagmus, saccadic hypermetria, and lack of vestibulo-ocular reflex inhibition. The most disabling syndrome is pendular nystagmus.

Conclusions: The high prevalence of ocular motor manifestations emphasizes the importance of neuro-ophthalmological examination among patients with MS. Because chronic manifestations may cause minimal or no symptoms, a systematic investigation of the most common manifestations should be performed in daily practice. Appropriate treatment may improve visual outcome in some of these ocular motor disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Eye Movements*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / etiology*
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / physiopathology
  • Visual Acuity