This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD) affect the spinal cord and optic nerves (nerves that carry visual messages to and from the brain). Symptoms include pain, weakness, bowel and bladder problems, and temporary vision loss. NMOSD usually occurs in adulthood, but symptoms may start at any age. Some people have a single attack of symptoms lasting months, but in most people the symptoms come and go over time. People with NMOSD may develop permanent muscle weakness and vision loss. The cause of NMOSD is unknown. It occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the spinal cord and eyes. It can be diagnosed by a clinical exam, MRI looking for specific signs, and blood tests looking for certain antibodies. Treatment is focused on managing the symptoms and preventing relapses.
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