July 24, 2003
SOURCE: Archives of Ophthalmology, 2003;121:944-949
Doctors may be able to better predict a person’s risk of developing multiple sclerosis by doing some aggressive screening measures at the first sign of a problem.
Doctors know eye problems are often the first sign of multiple sclerosis and now they are trying to determine what factors are associated with high and low risk. Optic neuritis is an acute inflammatory disorder of the optic nerve and is a common beginning for multiple sclerosis. It is more common in women than men and typically begins as sudden vision loss and pain in one eye.
Doctors followed 388 patients with optic neuritis for 10 to 13 years.
Patients had a MRI performed at the time of their initial eye problems. Patients with one or more lesions, a sign of multiple sclerosis, on the baseline MRI had a 56-percent risk of developing the disease within 10 years. Those with no lesions had a 22-percent risk. An increased number of lesions did not increase the risk.
Several factors were linked to a lower risk of developing the disease. Men were less likely to develop multiple sclerosis as were those with no light perception and no pain. The authors write, “This natural history information is a critical input for estimating a patient’s 10-year multiple sclerosis risk and for weighing the benefit of initiating prophylactic treatment at the time of optic neuritis.”
Perhaps the most optimistic news out of this study is that more than
40 percent of patients with lesions present on MRI do not develop multiple
sclerosis within 10 years.
Copyright © 2003, Ivanhoe Broadcast News, Inc.