Join or Renew and Choose Your Gift
- Offer ends Dec. 17
- Discounts on travel and everyday savings
- Subscription to AARP The Magazine
- Free membership for your spouse or partner
Devic Syndrome is a rare neurological disorder that affects both the protective sheet that lines the spinal cord and the optic nerve of the eye. People that have Devic syndrome lose the fatty covering of the spinal cord (myelin) and experience eye pain due to an exaggerated inflammatory response that occurs in the eye. The resulting spinal cord damage is known as transverse myelitis and the resulting eye inflammation is known as optic neuritis. Devic syndrome is a severe neurodegenerative disorder that can lead to blindness, paralysis, and incontinence (loss of bowel or bladder control).
Devic syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that is considered by many scientists to be a form of multiple sclerosis, another neurodegenerative disease that affects the protective coating of the spinal cord called the myelin sheath. In Devic syndrome, the course of the disease is more rapid and severe. Symptoms typically observed in patients that have multiple sclerosis usually appear after symptoms associated with Devic syndrome, distinguishing the two neurodegenerative diseases. Devic syndrome is also known as Devic disease and neuromyelitis optica.
It is still controversial whether Devic syndrome is a variant of multiple sclerosis. It is considered by some scientists to be a variant of a disease caused by exposure to the varicella zoster virus that results in acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM).
Devic syndrome can occur spontaneously, or in conjunction with multiple sclerosis or systemic lupus erythematosus. It affects males and females equally. Devic syndrome is a rare disorder, affecting less than an estimated five persons per million population per year.
Devic syndrome is a chronic and degenerative disorder that usually affects both eyes. The eyes develop diminished sensitivity to bright lights, color vision impairment, and diminished light reflexes. Approximately two-thirds of persons with Devic syndrome experience complete visual loss. The symptoms begin with significant loss of vision that precedes muscle weakness, ataxia (coordination difficulties and unsteady gait, or manner of walking), and numbness. Inflammatory sites of attack are usually the optic nerve chiasma, optic tract, and spinal cord. Usually, the optic neuropathy (damage to the optic nerve) is accompanied by severe transverse myelitis, which involves an acute inflammation of the spinal cord. The optic neuropathy usually happens before the transverse myelitis occurs, but in approximately 20% of patients it occurs in the reverse order.
Persons with Devic syndrome can also experience urinary, gastrointestinal, and sexual dysfunction. This occurs due to degeneration of the nerves that exit the spinal
Author Info: Bryan Richard Cobb PhD, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Neurological Disorders, 2005
Enter your symptoms in our Symptom Checker to find out possible causes of your symptoms. Go.
Enter any list of prescription drugs and see how they interact with each other and with other substances. Go.
Enter its color and shape information, and this tool helps you identify it. Go.
Find information on drug interactions, side effects, and more. Go.
From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.
Members save on purchases from The Popcorn Factory®.
Members save from top retailers online at Everyday Savings Center powered by NextJump.
Members save 10% on all Amazon Kindle e-readers and the Kindle Fire HD tablet.
Get the most out of your AARP membership – opt-in to receive AARP emails today!
Register at a location near you to keep your driving skills sharp.
Find opportunities to volunteer in your neighborhood.
NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon teams up with AARP's Foundation.
AARP Foundation Prepaid MasterCard brought to you by Green Dot.
Nothing has been viewed