Other Names for this Disease
- Devic syndrome
- Devic's neuromyelitis optica
- Devic disease
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The onset of neuromyelitis optica varies from childhood to adulthood, with two peaks: one in childhood and the other in adults in their 40s. Most people with neuromyelitis optica have a relapsing form of the disease and experience clusters of attacks months or years apart, followed by partial recovery during periods of remission (a decrease or disappearance of symptoms). Disability is cumulative, the result of each attack damaging new areas of myelin. In rare cases, neuromyelitis optica is characterized by a single, severe attack extending over a month or two, with little recurrence after the initial onset of symptoms. Some people are severely affected by neuromyelitis optica and can lose vision in both eyes and the use of their arms and legs. Most people experience a moderate degree of permanent limb weakness from myelitis. Muscle weakness can cause breathing difficulties and may require the use of artificial ventilation. The death of an individual with neuromyelitis optica is most often caused by respiratory (breathing) complications from myelitis attacks.
Last updated: 12/5/2014
- NINDS Neuromyelitis Optica Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. June 2014; http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/neuromyelitis_optica/neuromyelitis_optica.htm.