Neuromyelitis optica, or Devic’s disease, is a rare neurological condition that affects the optic nerves and spinal cord leading to optic neuritis and transverse myelitis. It can affect anyone, but cases of neuromyelitis optica have affected women more than men, and Asian and African descendants more commonly than Caucasians.



Symptoms of neuromyelitis optica usually differ from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Sharp, burning or numb pain in the nerves
  • Muscle weakness
  • Reduced muscle strength what can impair the mobility
  • Spasms
  • Increased muscle tone
  • Bladder problems
  • Bowel problems
  • Sexual problems
  • Depression
  • Damaged eyesight: blurred vision, loss of color vision, loss of vision
  • Sickness, vomiting and hiccups (obstinate)


Neuromyelitis optica is an autoimmune condition meaning that the immune system doesn’t react normally and attacks the tissues and organs of the body. In the case of neuromyelitis optica, the immune system attacks aquaporin-4. The aquaporin-4 is an antibody present in the blood in about 70% of people with neuromyelitis optica. The antibody is a protein that the body produces in order to destroy organisms and toxins that carry diseases. When aquaporin-4 is attacked the myelin sheath is damaged. The myelin sheath is the layer that surrounds the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and protects the nerves and helps the nerve signals to be transmitted.



There is no cure for neuromyelitis optica. The treatment focuses on managing symptoms, controlling attacks and preventing relapses. Some people experience mild symptoms, whereas others have severe signs and symptoms. However, it is beneficial to begin treatment early in order to prevent further occurrence or permanent disability. Treatment options are usually medications and rehabilitation techniques. Drugs are used to treat possible pain, reduce the inflammation of the nerves, and suppress the immune system, whereas rehabilitation techniques, such as physiotherapy, are used to help increase mobility.