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What is Devic's disease?

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Quick Answer

Devic's disease is a disorder of the central nervous system in which the eye nerves and the spinal cord become swollen, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is also known as neuromyelitis optica.

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Devic's disease occurs as a result of a reaction of the immune system against its cells in the eye nerves and the spinal cord, notes the Mayo Clinic. In rare occasions, the immune system may also attack the cells of the brain, leading to Devic's disease. Although the exact cause of Devic's disease is unclear, the condition sometimes occurs following an infection or another autoimmune disorder, and it may result in blindness in either both or one of the eyes, arm or leg paralysis, sensation loss, and painful spasms. It may also cause bowel or bladder dysfunction as a result of the spinal cord damage. It may lead to irreversible loss of vision and walking problems.

Devic's disease cannot be treated, according to Medical News Today. However, treatment options such as steroids and plasma exchange therapy may help alleviate the symptoms and the severity of the condition. In the steroid treatment, the patient may be given a steroid injection, followed by oral steroids. Plasma exchange therapy is usually applicable when the steroid treatment is ineffective; the treatment involves the removal of the antibodies that cause swelling from the blood.

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