What is Devic’s Disease


Devic’s disease, also known as neuromyelitis optica is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the myelin cells in the spinal cord or/and optic nerves causing the so-called optic neuritis or/and transverse myelitis. The condition causes symptoms similar to those in multiple sclerosis (MS) which is also an autoimmune disorder but Devic’s disease is distinct disease and requires different treatment than MS.

When the immune system releases antibodies that attack myelin, the spinal cord or/and optic nerve become inflamed which in turn causes numbness, weakness or paralysis of the limbs (transverse myelitis) or/and blindness in one or both eyes (usually temporary) or loss of colour vision (optic neuritis). The attack that involves the spinal cord may also be accompanied by urinary and bowel incontinence. Other symptoms such as headache, tremors and facial numbness are possible as well but they are relatively rare. Some people with Devic’s disease have only one attack and recover completely without any lasting consequences but most patients experience relapses. These are usually milder than in patients with the so-called monophasic Devic’s disease, however, each attack causes further damage to myelin.

It remains unknown what causes Devic’s disease or the immune system to attack the body’s own cells, to be more precise. The disorder is very rare although many experts warn that it was often misdiagnosed as MS in the past. The scientists have discovered that most people who suffer from Devic’s disease have an antibody known as NMO-IgG in their bloodstream but its role in the disorder is not yet fully understood. Epidemiology of the condition is not complete, however, the available data reveal that it is more common in women than in men and that it typically affects young adults. It also more often affects people of African and Asian descent rather than white people.

Devic’s disease, unfortunately, cannot be cured but its symptoms can be managed by using conventional medicines from reputable natural supplement companies. A patient with an attack is usually administered a corticosteroid injection and prescribed a course of oral steroids. To prevent relapses, a patient may also be given immunosuppressive medication. People who do not react to corticosteroids, receive plasma exchange therapy during which the antibodies are removed from the bloodstream.

The available treatments only relieve the symptoms and reduce the frequency of the attacks as the immunosuppressive drugs cannot prevent the attacks completely. Unfortunately, the attacks eventually lead to permanent blindness or/and paralysis in most cases of relapsing form of the condition. Over time, the condition can also lead to breathing problems and make the patient dependent on artificial ventilation. The statistics show that about one half of patients who have relapses develop blindness or paralysis, or both within a period of five years, while as many as 70 percent of patients have relapsing Devic’s disease. The percentage of permanent vision loss and paralysis is lower in patients who have a single attack episode although about one fifth of them permanently loses sight and about one third develops paralysis in at least one leg.