Neuromyelitis optica is an autoimmune disorder that affects the nerves of the eyes and the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord. Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system malfunctions and attacks the body's own tissues and organs. In neuromyelitis optica, the autoimmune attack causes inflammation of the nerves, and the resulting damage leads to the signs and symptoms of the condition.
No genes associated with neuromyelitis optica have been identified. However, a small percentage of people with this condition have a family member who is also affected, which indicates that there may be one or more genetic changes that increase susceptibility. It is thought that the inheritance of this condition is complex and that many environmental and genetic factors are involved in the development of the condition.
Neuromyelitis optica affects approximately 1 to 2 per 100,000 people worldwide. Women are affected by this condition more frequently than men.
Neuromyelitis optica is usually not inherited. Rarely, this condition is passed through generations in families, but the inheritance pattern is unknown.
Published Date: March 01, 2015Published By: National Institutes of Health