Eye Conditions and Treatment

Myasthenia Gravis is treated in the Neuro-Ophthalmology Service

Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia gravis is a chronic, autoimmune, neuromuscular disease characterized by varying degrees of muscle weakness.  Although the disorder usually becomes apparent during adulthood, symptom onset may occur at any age. It is caused by a defect in the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles. The condition may be restricted to certain muscle groups, particularly those of the eyes (Ocular Myasthenia Gravis), or may become more generalized (Generalized Myasthenia Gravis), involving multiple muscle groups.  Myasthenia Gravis results from an abnormal immune reaction in which the body's natural immune defenses (i.e., antibodies) inappropriately attack and gradually destroy certain receptors in muscles that receive nerve impulses (antibody-mediated autoimmune response).

Signs and Symptoms

  • Weakness and drooping of the eyelids (ptosis)
  • Weakness of eye muscles, resulting in double vision (diplopia)
  • Excessive muscle fatigue following activity

Treatment and Prevention

  • Medications to improve neuromuscular transmission and muscular strength, or to suppress the production of abnormal antibodies
  • Thymectomy, the surgical removal of the thymus gland
  • Plasmapheresis, a procedure to remove abnormal antibodies from the blood