Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) is a rare autoimmune condition in which the immune system produces autoantibodies that mistakenly attack the neuromuscular junction, the region where the nerve cells meet the muscle cells. This affects the communication between nerve cells and muscles. As a result, the muscles weaken over time, causing the symptoms associated with LEMS.

Muscles affected by LEMS

LEMS predominantly affects the voluntary muscles that help the body move at will. But the autonomic nervous system that controls involuntary bodily functions, such as eye responses to light, can also be affected.

Eye muscle weakness is uncommon in LEMS patients and therefore is not easily identified as a LEMS symptom. However, several eye problems have been described in patients with LEMS.

Eye problems reported in LEMS

A study reviewed the medical records of LEMS patients with eye symptoms. They included:

  • Ptosis or droopy eyelids
  • Diplopia or double vision
  • Reduced vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Strabismus or cross-eyes
  • Pupillary dysfunction
  • Blurry vision, causing headache

Additional information

Limb weakness is the characteristic symptom of patients with LEMS, while eye muscle weakness is typical of a related autoimmune condition called myasthenia gravis. LEMS and myasthenia gravis both affect the neuromuscular junction, but their clinical manifestation differs significantly. Therefore, LEMS patients presenting with eye symptoms are often misdiagnosed with myasthenia gravis. Eye symptoms must be considered along with other signs while reviewing patient medical history for a suspected LEMS diagnosis.

 

Last updated: Aug. 28, 2019

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Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Vijaya Iyer is a freelance science writer for BioNews Services. She has contributed content to their several disease-specific websites, including cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, among others. She holds a PhD in Microbiology from Kansas State University, where her research focused on molecular biology, bacterial interactions, metabolism, and animal models to study bacterial infections. Following the completion of her PhD, Dr. Iyer went on to complete three postdoctoral fellowships at Kansas State University, University of Miami and Temple University. She joined BioNews Services to utilize her scientific background and writing skills to help patients and caregivers remain abreast with important scientific breakthroughs.
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Özge has a MSc. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester for six years in the field of Behavioural Neurology before moving into science communication. She worked as the Research Communication Officer at a London based charity for almost two years.
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Vijaya Iyer is a freelance science writer for BioNews Services. She has contributed content to their several disease-specific websites, including cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, among others. She holds a PhD in Microbiology from Kansas State University, where her research focused on molecular biology, bacterial interactions, metabolism, and animal models to study bacterial infections. Following the completion of her PhD, Dr. Iyer went on to complete three postdoctoral fellowships at Kansas State University, University of Miami and Temple University. She joined BioNews Services to utilize her scientific background and writing skills to help patients and caregivers remain abreast with important scientific breakthroughs.
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