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A woman holding up a giant black circle in front of the sun.

Blind Spot: Look Over There!

The most common symptom people first experience before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) is optic neuritis.1 Optic neuritis is basically inflammation of the optic nerve(s) and most commonly results in blurred vision but can also cause people to experience things such as color blindness, eye pain, flashing lights, and blindness of varying degrees in the affected eye. In the weeks leading up to my diagnosis, blurred vision was one of my first symptoms, and my vision has never fully recovered. I started wearing glasses after my diagnosis, and I can’t imagine I will ever not need them. While glasses help with the blurry vision, they don’t help with other aspects of optic neuritis that I have experienced, such as minor color blindness, the quick flashes of white light I saw a few times while trying to fall asleep, or the small blind spot in the peripheral of my left eye.

A visual field test

I wasn’t hit with this small blind spot for a while but when it did? It was kind of scary because I first noticed it while driving… I noticed that when I was looking straight ahead, the cars in the oncoming lanes to my left would disappear for a second before reappearing and passing me by. When I realized this wasn’t just a fluke but an ongoing issue, I made an appointment with my optometrist who did a visual field test. If you have never done a visual field test, it’s really simple. You sit in front of this large, white dome thing and stare at the red dot in the center while covering one eye. Once the test begins, little green dots will start randomly appearing in the white dome and every time you see one, you press a button. After doing this for both eyes, the computer is able to see which green dots you did and didn’t see. This data is printed out on an image containing two circles which obviously represent your eyes and allows you to see where in your field of vision you couldn’t see any of the green dots.

Problems with my peripheral vision

When we looked at my first visual field test results, the left side of my left eye was completely black (black spots in the results represent where your eye didn’t see any of the dots)! But let me just say this: it wasn’t as dramatic as it may sound. It’s not like half of the world around me was dark; it was more like a spot of blurred colors that I mostly only noticed when I was doing something that required me to pay attention to my peripheral vision like driving. Anyway, I quickly learned to compensate for it, and I never really had any real issues. While it never prevented me from doing something that I wanted or needed to do, it was (and still is) just really annoying and sometimes frustrating. Over the years, that blind spot would get better and worse until eventually it seemed to settle down and only a small circle of blackness was now showing up on the peripheral field test. After I stopped driving (for other MS-related reasons) several years later, I started noticing my blind spot getting in the way of other things I do.

Other situations when I notice my blind spot

I’ll sometimes notice my blind spot when I am working on the computer, watching TV, or playing certain video games with a friend. None of that stuff is really a big deal at all but again, to me? It’s really annoying! Either way, for the most part, I have learned to work around it, but every now and then, especially when it seems to be flaring up, that small void in my vision will be obviously present. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed a headline on the news because my blind spot was in the way! But who cares, that’s what the DVR is for, rewinding and pausing, right? As far as my “leisure time” is concerned, I usually have a friend over once a week to play “Smash,” a fighting game for the Nintendo Switch, and that is when I really notice it. It’s a pretty fast-paced game where each player picks a character and fights each other on a stage where there is lots of stuff going on. While my opponent and I are fighting, I’ll see my character disappear for a second and then reappear when moving across the screen, and in that small moment of time, there is so much that can happen and it’s not good stuff, not for me that is.

What my blind spot really looks like

Again, those are just a few frivolous, random examples of when I’m really aware of my blind spot, but none of that really describes the spot itself. This is how I would describe it: If you were to hold a small coin in front of you, with your arm fully extended, that’s about the size of my blind spot, which doesn’t sound like much, but try this. Hold a coin in front of you and stand really close to a TV. Not that much is hidden, right? But now stand as far away from the TV as you can and all of a sudden that small, coin-sized blind spot is covering up a lot more of the screen than it did when you were right in front of it. For me, it’s like I have that coin in front of me at all times, but instead of a coin, it’s just a blurry spot of colors. Still not sure how such a tiny spot could be so in the way? Well, to further illustrate how the distance between me and whatever I’m looking at determines how much my blind spot hides, hold a coin up at the sun. That coin can pretty much block out the whole thing even though the sun is incredibly large compared to the coin you’re holding. So, basically, the further away something is from me, the higher the chance is that I won’t even notice that it’s there. That said, if you ever point at something in the distance and say, “look at that!” and you see me tilt and turn my head a bit while trying to look? That’s why. I’m simply trying to move my blind spot out of the way.

Do you deal with any kind of blind spots? Do they affect your daily life? Have you found that anything helps, or have you learned to compensate? Share your experience below!

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  1. MS Symptoms. National MS Society. Accessed May 31, 2019. https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms

Comments

  • bella1970
    2 months ago

    I have a horrible memory and I just laugh at myself I love your outlook stay positive and know Gods got a plan

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 months ago

    I try to stay positive but a lot of the time, if I’m being honest, I just try to maintain my sense of humor and find a way to laugh about something rather than stress.

  • Stefanie
    3 months ago

    I was diagnosed with MS after I got completely blind in my right eye 5 years ago. It was blind for a month and the I regained 5% of my vision in that eye. This means that I can see light and dark and things that move.
    The funny thing is that I have found a use for that right eye. When I watch a scary movie and there is a scene that I don’t really want to see I close my left eye and with the sound I know what is happening without really having to watch it!

  • Matt Allen G author
    2 months ago

    Lol! Turning a negative into a positive, I love it! I try to look at my poor memory as “an opportunity to watch the same movie over and over again and never feel like I have watched it 100 times” haha, Negative to positive.

  • potter
    3 months ago

    When I was diagnosed I would see a almost neon purple dot every where I looked. I was told it was a blind spot by my eye doctor. After I started on a DMT it went away, from your description is doesn’t sound like a blind spot. Sometimes at night I see purple flashes and it is hard for me to get to sleep I can still see a tiny bit of light with my eyes closed. I end up with a pillow over my head. Potter

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 months ago

    I have medical tests that show there is a huge blind spot in my left eye. It shows which parts of the eye can see light and which can’t. I also don’t know what else to call a spot where things disappear when they are in front of it especially when optometrists, ophthalmologists, and neurologists tell me it is called a blind spot haha… Flashes of light as you describe is part of optic neuritis and I have had that in the past but it’s been a while since the weird flashes accompanied me while trying to fall asleep.

  • David
    2 months ago

    I’m a ret. RN, medic and medical missionary for 35+years. The “blind spot” that they may be referring to is different than a spot on the retina where you may be blind from a clot or nerve damage from MS. The “blind spot” as it is commonly referred to is the point in the retina where all the nerves and blood vessels in the eye exit the eyeball. It is technically blind in all of us it is also referred to as the “white spot” or the “optic disc”. You can look up any of these term on google and even look on google for images of the blind spot. Sorry if they scared you or misled you by using medical lingo. You may indeed have areas of the retina in which you are blind from your MS. You can get all kinds of wierd garbage in your eye from the neuritis. If I can be of further help with please feel free to friend me or contact me back here. Good luck. David

  • Theblindnessa
    3 months ago

    I have so many blind spots on both eyes that I’m legally blind or visual impaired. Happened right after my 24 birthday. I travel with a white cane every day.

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 months ago

    wow, I am definitely “lucky” to only have the one!

  • David
    3 months ago

    I had had numbness and tingling in my leg and the docs had no idea of what was happening. I was working in an emergency room as an RN and was talking to a doc when I noticed I could not see anything in my upper peripheral vision. I was kind of stunned. I asked the doc what it could be. The put me in a bed just as my heart rate and blood pressure crashed. Two days later they told me that I had MS and that I had sustained an MS lesion on my optic nerve. I am still blind in the upper half of my right eye.

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 months ago

    Oh man, no other symptoms with the pins and needles? You would think someone in the medical environment you were working in would have connected those dots!

  • collena
    3 months ago

    Hell of thing pre-diagnosis thinking I was losing my mind and about to go blind. They say it remyelinates but the a part of my right eye visual field could only be described as underwater- murky and distorted. I tend to close it when I drive- argh.

  • Matt Allen G author
    3 months ago

    That description makes sense, I have had the “hazy” thing before but it never lasted long so I never really attributed it to MS, thought it was due to my many headaches or something. Who knows.

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