A consecutive series of patients with normal activity and a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (10 male and 31 female) underwent extensive ophthalmological examination including visual evoked potentials (VEPs) and a new test of contrast sensitivity, which is described in detail. Seventy three per cent of patients had abnormal contrast sensitivity and 83% had abnormal VEPs. There was no association between abnormalities of the two types, but patients who had impaired contrast sensitivity and normal VEPs were younger than those whose contrast sensitivity was normal but whose VEPs were not. The test of contrast sensitivity (which took less than 5 minutes to administer) was the only examination to reveal visual abnormalities in all nine patients with a history of optic neuritis, and would be a useful supplementary test in the examination of patients with suspected multiple sclerosis.
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