Myasthenia gravis is a chronic neuromuscular disease that develops when the communication between nerves and muscles are impaired. It is represented by weakness and tiredness of the muscles that are involved in the movement of the body parts. It usually affects skeletal muscles. It happens due to damage of acetylcholine receptors in the muscles by antibodies generated in autoimmune reactions. It develops in the age of 20-50 years, more commonly in women. It causes eye symptoms like diplopia, double vision, and drooping of eyelids in its initial stage. It is an incurable disease whose symptoms can be managed.
Does Myasthenia Gravis Cause Blindness?
The ocular or eye symptoms are the initial symptoms of myasthenia gravis. It is often called ocular myasthenia gravis when the symptoms of this disorder are not generalized. This disorder usually develops more frequently in females than in males. But the ocular myasthenia affects males more than females after the age of 40 years. The average age at which this disorder appears is 38 years of age. If the ocular symptoms remain for 3 years, then myasthenia gravis is not likely to spread to other muscles of the body. The eye muscles are more likely to develop symptoms when affected by myasthenia gravis than skeletal muscles. It is because slight weakness developed in the eyes may cause ocular symptoms. (1)
The symptoms of ocular myasthenia gravis occur due to the weakness in the muscle whose main function is to control the movement of eyeball and eyelid. Even slightest weakness in the muscle can cause eye symptoms. Some patient may develop light sensitivity due to weak pupils. The symptoms are more triggered by emotional, environmental or physical factors such as sunlight, emotional stress, surgery, extreme temperature, pregnancy, menstruation, any illness, surgery and many more. Symptoms become worse with the end of the day. The ocular symptoms appear and disappear quickly.
Ocular myasthenia gravis may go into remission period. It does not cause blindness. It affects the movement of eyeball and eyelid. Its symptoms include-
- Diplopia– it is one of the initial symptoms of this disorder. It leads to double vision in which focusing of eyes on the desired objects become difficult due to the weakness of one or more extraocular muscles. It is felt most when one tries to look upwards or to the side. He has to tilt his head or face to the side his strong eye can focus.
- Ptosis– ptosis means dropping of one or both eyelids. The weakness of the eye muscles may cause twitching or fluttering of the eyelid. The drooping of eyes may be worse than others.
- Nystagmus –it is involuntary movement of the eyeball in any direction in a repeated manner. It can affect or both eyes at a time.
Its other eye symptoms include difficulty in focusing, looking at the objects that are at close range and turning the eyes inward. (2)
Myasthenia gravis is a chronic disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system impairing the supply of information to the muscles. It causes weakness in the muscles that participate in the movement of various parts of our body. it initially affects eye muscles and then skeletal muscles. When it involves eye muscles, it causes symptoms like diplopia, double vision, and ptosis. When it involves skeletal muscles, it impairs voluntary actions like the movement of the neck, arms, hands, fingers, legs, and foot. In severe cases, it may disturb the normal breathing process as it impairs the function of the muscles that play an important role in breathing.
Myasthenia gravis develops initially in the eyes. In some cases, this disorder affects only eye muscles, it is called ocular myasthenia gravis. Its eye symptoms are diplopia, double vision, and ptosis due to weakness in eye muscles. These symptoms can appear suddenly and go into remission period. It causes problems related to focusing of eyes on the objects but it does not cause blindness
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