Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium) is prescribed to patients to treat interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome. This oral drug got its first FDA approval in 1996. It was believed to ease bladder pain and discomfort by offering an additional coating of protection to the inner bladder walls, mitigating painful irritation from the patient’s urine. However, patients have been reporting eye damage from Elmiron.
Using Elmiron for a long time has been associated with a rare but very serious eye condition known as pigmentary maculopathy, a kind of macular degeneration of the eye.
Symptoms of Pigmentary Maculopathy
Pigmentary maculopathy refers to a gradual, progressive degenerative condition that initially causes the loss of central vision or blind spots. It can worsen into total blindness. The condition causes the pigmented cells underneath the retina to break down, releasing pigment that winds up settling on the macula. Because of the pigment buildup, a person can suffer from vision distortion or blurriness, problems adjusting to light and darkness, as well as vision loss. Also, it can cause sensitivity to flashing lights, hallucinations, and loss of color. Unfortunately, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Elmiron failed to warn of permanent loss of vision or eye damage from their product. This offers patients who have suffered from eye damage after taking the product the chance to file a lawsuit against the company.
Living with Macular Degeneration
Although macular degeneration is incurable, some treatments are available to slow the progression of the disease. Patients can make lifestyle changes to cope with vision loss and help prevent disease progression. These include eating a healthy diet, keeping their cholesterol and blood pressure down, having eye regular eye checkups, using good lighting when reading, and more.
Moreover, patients should discuss macular degeneration with their doctor to understand the disease, their prognosis, and how to improve the living. Also, they should take advantage of low vision electronic aids which include handheld or desktop magnifiers, antiglare glasses, stand magnifiers, AMD glasses, clocks with big numbers, large-button phones, and audiobooks. By learning how to do things a bit differently, patients can continue to have a productive and enjoyable life.
Patients must keep in mind that a comprehensive eye exam is the only way to diagnose macular degeneration. This is the reason they must visit an eye specialist regularly. Early detection can allow for more treatment options and early treatment can help stop the progression of the disease.