What is Devic's disease?

Devic's disease, also called neuromyelitis optica or NMO, is an immunological disorder that may be confused with multiple sclerosis (MS). Devic's disease is often characterized by immune attacks on the optic nerves (which transmit what you see to your brain) and the spinal cord. Patients may experience these attacks at the same time or at different times. They may also have just problems with the optic nerves alone or just problems with the spinal cord alone and still have Devic's disease.

Is Devic's disease a type of multiple sclerosis?

Until recently, Devic's disease was thought to be a kind of MS that caused more severe problems with the optic nerves and spinal cord. Recent research has suggested that Devic's disease is probably a different disease in which there is a specific immune attack on a molecule known as aquaporin 4. Our understanding of Devic's disease is changing quickly at the present time due to new research in this important disorder.

What are the symptoms of Devic's disease?

Potential symptoms of this disease include:

  • Loss of vision or blurred vision
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Problems with your bladder and/or bowels
  • Spasticity (stiffness or tightness in your muscles)

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