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In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with neurologist Dr. Mitzi Williams, we discuss how NMOSD presents in minority patients. We also discuss the outcomes of minority patients with NMOSD.

MD Newsline:

How does NMOSD present differently in different racial/ethnic groups?

Dr. Mitzi Williams:

“NMOSD does not necessarily present differently in different racial/ethnic groups. Often, patients with NMOSD present with severe optic neuritis that may be bilateral, and they have a poor recovery, resulting in vision loss. In contrast, patients with MS that initially present with optic neuritis generally have a unilateral vision loss with a good recovery, and their vision will return to normal in a short period of time.

Lastly, in both NMOSD and MS, we also see unilateral weakness, numbness, and tingling, due to spinal cord disease.”


MD Newsline:

Why do you think minority groups with NMOSD seem to have worse symptoms and outcomes? 

Dr. Mitzi Williams:

“We don’t know if there’s an underlying biologic basis that contributes to these differences, but we do know social determinants of health play a large part in the outcomes we see.

For example, systemic racism plays a role when patients’ symptoms may not be believed or fully investigated. Additionally, some of our patients may not have the transportation needed to access care, and they may not be able to see a neurologist or a neuroimmunologist that specializes in treating NMOSD. All of these factors affect patient outcomes, particularly for minority patients.”


Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.

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