Eye Damage May Occur With Use of Bladder Drug

A popular drug used to treat interstitial cystitis of the bladder was shown in a recent study to cause retinal damage in a study presented at the 2019 American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting.

Researchers examined a database of 4.3 million patients at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California after a report from last year claimed Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium) may be toxic to the retina.

Three Kaiser Premanent ophthalmologists identified 140 patients who had taken an average of 5,000 Elmiron pills each over 15 years. Ninety-one of the 140 patients agreed to an exam. During the exam, the ophthalmologists took detailed images of the retinas in the back of the eyes.

Elmiron toxicity to the retina was discovered in 22 of the 91 patients. The toxicity levels rose with the amount of the drug that was taken, with 42% of patients who had taken 1,500 grams or more of Elmiron having Elmiron toxicity.

Unfortunately, Elmiron is the only FDA-approved drug used to treat interstitial cystitis, which is a condition that causes chronic pain in the bladder and pelvis area and affects more than 1 million people in the United State with the majority being women. Patients who have signs of damage need to consult with their urologist or ob/gyn about discontinuing the drug. If the damage is caught early enough, stopping the drug may be sufficient in limiting the amount of damage caused,*

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