The younger the person is when the disease appears, the greater the risk for disability and early death. Those who develop the disease early can have vision problems that progress to blindness, and problems with mental function that get worse. If the disease starts in the first year of life, death by age 10 is likely.
If the disease occurs in adulthood, symptoms will be milder with no vision loss and a normal life expectancy.
Vision impairment or blindness (with the early-onset forms of the disease)
Mental impairment, ranging from severe developmental delays at birth to dementia later in life
Rigid muscles (due to severe problems with the nerves that control muscle tone)
The person may become totally dependent on others for help with daily activities.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if your child shows symptoms of blindness or retardation.
Genetic counseling is recommended if your family has a known history of NCLS. Prenatal or preimplantation genetic testing may be available depending on the specific type of disease.
Chad Haldeman-Englert, MD, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Section on Medical Genetics, Winston-Salem, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.