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Devic’s disease – causes, side effects and treatments at

Tuesday, March 06, 2018 by

Devic’s disease is a rare neurological disorder that damages the spinal cord and the nerves of the eyes. It is more formally known as neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and is generally characterized by immune attacks to the optic nerves and spinal cord. NMO should not be confused with multiple sclerosis which affects the entire central nervous system. New genetic data has clarified that NMO is a completely different disease from multiple sclerosis as it specifically damages the optic nerves and the spinal cord.

Devic’s disease can affect anyone at any age, though women are noted to be more susceptible to the illness.

Known side effects of Devic’s disease

The first obvious sign of Devic’s disease is excruciating pain in one or both eyes. Loss of clear vision rapidly follows this. Patients with initial symptoms of NMO will see colors as faded or less vivid.

These are accompanied by neural challenges as well, including:

  • Weakness in the arms and legs
  • Pain radiating from the limbs (described as sharp, burning, or numbing)
  • Increased sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Tightness or painful muscle spasms in the limbs
  • Bladder, bowel, and sexual problems.

The severity of these symptoms varies with the patient. Some people may only experience challenges with their eyesight; others will only have neurological discomfort. This makes the diagnosis of Devic’s disease challenging, as most doctors will take the symptoms as indications of other, more commonly known diseases.

NMO can also be one-off or relapsing. Attacks are unpredictable, and it is still not understood what triggers them.

Body systems affected by Devic’s disease

NMO specifically targets the spinal cord and optic nerves. Geneticists posit that Devic’s disease attacks a molecule known as aquaporin 4 which regulates the function of both these systems.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent Devic’s disease

We still do not understand how Devic’s disease develops or what causes it. That said, you can prevent the illness by consuming food items that support healthy eye and spinal cord function. These include:

  • Gingko — This improves the blood flow to the retina and can be used to lessen the severity of glaucoma. Gingko is also a good source of antioxidants that protect nerve cells.
  • Cannabis — Scores of research suggest using cannabis to improve overall health. The active compound in cannabis can reduce inflammation and provide potent pain relief.
  • Green tea — The beverage is loaded with antioxidants that fight against free radical damage. Their combined action can prevent such conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
  • Bilberry — The berry is purported to improve eye health due to its powerful combination of healthful antioxidants and flavonoids.

Treatments, management plans for Devic’s disease

NMO is currently incurable. This may be because medical professionals are still very much unlearned about the condition.

Patients diagnosed with NMO are usually prescribed drugs that repress the body’s immune system. This is so that the inflammation occurring in the spinal cord or optic nerves is lessened.

Where to learn more


Devic’s disease, otherwise known as neuromyelitis optica, is a degenerative disease that targets the spinal cord and optic nerves.

Doctors do not know much about the condition and therefore do not know how to treat it.

Attacks may be one-off or relapsing. Triggers are yet unknown.

Devic’s disease is currently classified as incurable.

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