Double Vision and Vertigo: 6th Nerve Palsy?

ms multiple sclerosis double vision palsy

FYI: Expect lots of spelling and grammar errors in this post, I can’t see what I’m writing!

Just can’t catch a brake can I? Just got over a pretty bad exacerbation and already something new is trying to bring me down! This one was kind of my fault I am assuming though… You see, I had a last minute wedding job present itself last Sunday and despite the heat I just HAD to take this opportunity because it could have potentially lead to many more well paying jobs! This could be the brake I needed! Did OK all day at the wedding, felt unusually fine I might say…

The next day is when I started noticing something was off. My vision was a little tweaked, it was very settle though, almost felt like vertigo so I assumed that’s all it was. By the end of the day my vision was getting much more blurry but that always happens when I’m in the heat only this time there was a delayed effect for some reason… The next day I woke up and immediately knew this was something different… Something new… My vision was totally doubled and everything was spinning, I could barely stumble out of bed and stand it was so bad.

Of course Mr. Neurologist was not in the office for the week and I guess his colleagues down the hall are not allowed to see other patients without a referral so the appointment center told me to go to urgent care. Surprise! You’ve been dropped from your insurance! Well this was not a complete surprise as we had received a letter in the mail and already contacted AT&T who said it was a mistake and that I am still covered but apparently Kaiser didn’t get the memo… But that is an entirely different situation that we will skip for now…So still they took me in after filling out some paperwork saying that we would pay for all the expense should I not actually end up being covered.

At this point a few nurses did some basic vision tests… I mean basic. Stand at the tape, cover one eye, and read the top line. With my left eye I could see the top line and that’s it as my vision was spinning to much and was far too blurry to read anything smaller. Right eye I couldn’t read anything. Both eyes open I couldn’t even tell where the stupid box on the wall was. Everything was so doubled that I saw two boxes on the wall touching corner to corner. Pointless test because the numbers were inaccurate of my issue. What ever.

They finally get me in with the doctor who just kept telling me he didn’t deal with MS patients so he didn’t really know what to tell me… Umm…. Really? You can’t ask a colleague for some advice or something? Kaiser is all about their awesome technology and they don’t even know how to use a phone? Don’t have the technology or money to keep their doctors on some kind of special, online network that would allow doctors to instantaneously share information and send messages to each other bettering the abiliy to properly treat a patient? I know that sounds kind of far out but they should seriously invent something like that someday, bet it would change the world.

Be right back, have to check something on Facebook relaly quick…

OK so where was I? Oh yeah, ranting! So Just going to tell me I’m out of luck till I can see a neurologist? No advice what so ever? Nothing?? What a shock… Thank you doctor for your minimal contribution to my day.

Now mind, I came in to Kaiser that day because I myself believed I already had a diagnosis and solution but thought I should get a “professional” opinion before acting. I believe I am experiencing what’s called 6th Nerve Palsy which is where the nerve that controls the muscle that keeps both eyes properly aligned (laterally) is damaged. The muscle grows weak and allows one eye to drift slightly to the left or right sometimes enough that it is even visibly noticeable but not always. This slight misalignment causes the double vision so if you cover one eye it goes away which is the case for me as of now. If it was a sever case of optic neuritis it would more than likely be consistent wether one eye is closed or not which is not the case. As always I am not a doctor so I can not confirm that information for sur emuch like… My doctor…

Anyways, he ended up asking me “Well what do YOU think it is?” and “What do YOU usually do during a flare?” before telling me “OK, well, you should do that then.” Awesome, hope I don’t kill myself! Should have told him “Well since this is let the patient diagnosis and treat himself day I usually just shoot up a bunch of heroin! Heroin makes me feel great! What do you think of that doc?”

God seriously? So I wasted all that time to go back home and do what I was already planning on doing in the first place based on on my ZERO years of medical schooling experiance. My pre-Kaiser plan was to take about 80mg of Prednisone for about a week and wear an eye patch in the meantime to help with the double vision. His advice? 60Mg of Prednisone for 5 days and that’s it. I don’t think he even knew what 6th Nerve Palsy even was… So I have been taking 80mg of Prednisone since anything less is just like candy to me at this point and wearing this lame eye patch sometimes switching off to my glasses with some frosted tape over one lens so that I can eliminate the double vision while still letting my eye get some light so it doesn’t totally just shut down or something stupid. I got my next IV steroid treatment set up for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so other than that there is nothing I can do but wait. If the problem persists I can try to get some prism lens for my glasses but oh yeah, AT&T dropped my dental and vision coverage! So fingers crossed on the good ol’ steroids…

After I get through this mess it’s going to be time to start looking into a drastically new treatment. I have little faith in the disease modifying medications but I still have to try them before I can shun them off because at this point I’m going to have to try everything I can… I can’t live a life where every month I am out for 2 weeks. How will I work? How will I go to school? Something has to change and I’m not sure what yet…

By the way, VERY hard to sort through hundreds of wedding pictures and edit the keepers when you are pretty much blind just in case you were wondering haha! So I want to thank my good friend Nicola who is a photographer over in Ireland with MS who helped me out a lot with this wedding situation. THANKS!

14 thoughts on “Double Vision and Vertigo: 6th Nerve Palsy?

  • August 14, 2011 at 6:29 am

    I have been reading your blog for a month or so, went through most of the posts, but never commented. Thank you for putting forth the effort to get this setup.

    As for the double vision, my first major exacerbation was the double vision (this year). A couple trips to ophthalmologist and they thought it was 4th nerve palsy, and they changed their minds on which eye twice.
    It wasn't until they sent me in for MRI that the lesions were found.
    Get this, the ophthalmologist calls me while I'm working and tells me it's clearly MS.. over the phone.
    Anyways, the double vision lasted for about 5 months. I still have issues with it if I look at any corner of my vision, either up/down/left/right the image goes double, as well as if I tilt my head. Occasional trouble driving at night.
    Mine seemed to almost clear up within a couple days, when it started getting better it got better quickly.
    Hopefully yours does not last long and there is no residual effects.
    Also, be careful when you wear an eye patch, you will quickly discover issues with depth perception.
    I was dumb enough to think I could go hiking (in NC), I was tripping over roots and rocks the whole time. I also had the vertigo. My name was called from behind me, I turned around and just started falling backwards down the cliff side, luckily some branches and other hikers were there to keep me going down.

    For the double vision before I knew it was MS, I went through all kinds of eye exercises trying to strengthen the muscles but made no difference.

    There's my ramble.
    Good luck on the vision and everything else, hope you can catch some breaks.
    I will be in touch at some point, we are both in our 20's and seemed to have similar life paths.

  • August 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing the info! Good to her from someone else who knows what Im talking about just not good that someone else had to go through it.

    I definitely noticed sever depth perception issues after wearing the patch for just a little bit to the point where I couldn't tell how far away the wall was from my hand. I try to not wear it now or just wear my glasses with a peice of tape over one eye.

    It starting to get a tad better for me except when I look right, as soon as I do that everything doubles but left up and maybe down seems to be ok. I also tried exercising my eyes or meditating to try to "will" them to focus (lol) but no luck there…

    I REALLY hope I don't have residual effects from this because I already have a blind spot that makes things tough enough and as a photographer I don't need any more vision issues… Time will tell.

    Definitely keep in touch, feel free to join my Facebook group!

  • August 14, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    I would give anything to see one set of stars or just one moon again.

    I started Gilenya this week after a few months of a really bad experience with Rebif.
    Now I have to be concerned with Macular Edema. I won't know I'm affected by it until it just pops up after 3 or so months on Gilenya.

    People certainly take their vision for granted. I know I did.

    I am a bit old fashioned and I don't own a facebook account.

  • August 14, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Yeah Um nervous about Gilenya because it's so new… And people take EVERYTHING for granted, walking, vision, hand control…. Everything… And haha I feel yah with the Facebook, I am not big on it all but it helps keep everyone connected so I do what I can.

  • August 15, 2011 at 6:50 am

    The way I looked at Gilenya is that I am young and I really felt I didn't have much else to lose. The potential reward out weighs the risk in my mind right now.
    Rebif was an awful experience. Really bad side effects and a couple exacerbations. (I must add the MS Life Lines support program with Rebif is top notch. Not a single complaint)
    I told my neuro I wanted to switch and he did not argue with me.
    After quitting Rebif, I felt my best in almost 2 years. I actually considered quitting all meds, but I knew better.

    I will send an update after a month or two of use.

  • August 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Yeah sometimes I feel that way about how I am young and dont have too much to loose but than I loose at how sensitive my MS is and I'm like "Well….. I don't need to make it worse" haha…..

  • August 15, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Great insight and information Matt. I work with Good Days from Chronic Disease Fund, and it is our goal to assist chronic disease sufferers in gaining the treatment they need. By supporting our organization, you could help these patients too!

  • September 7, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    I had six nerve palsy from a fall while I was pregnant. I had the same run around with Doctors until my neuroptomolgist saved me from actually seeing my children again. I had to wear special glasses with a prism on it which just made my weak eye stronger. It took 3 months to heal and 4 1/2 years later, I have not had a problem. I am so sorry you are going throught this. Never ever posted anything on the internet but my heart is hurting for you because I know the pain you are going through. I wish you so much luck to recovering quickly.

  • September 7, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Well hurt no more because I recovered very quickly! I thought I would have to get the prism thing for my glasses but all the steroids cleared it up pretty quick!

  • June 3, 2013 at 11:29 am

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  • June 13, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Hi! Thanks! I just got back from out of town so soon I will have more stuff uploaded! It's been slow!

  • October 2, 2013 at 3:13 am

    Hey Matt!
    I was diagnosed with MS on Aug. 2 and your blog has been so valuable to me!

    I've been experiencing sixth nerve palsy for going on 3 weeks… My left eye just won't move! I had IV steroids 2 weeks ago, but this is still going on. Just wondering how long this lasted for you? Did your vision get better suddenly or slowly? Thank you! 🙂

  • October 7, 2013 at 10:44 am

    SLOWLY! But sometimes a week and sometimes 3. Anything longer I would have a serious talk with your doctor… But steroids/Acthar should help speed it up


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