Elmiron, a prescription medication used to treat a bladder condition, has been linked to eye damage. Hundreds of thousands of people who use Elmiron are at risk of suffering permanent vision loss, according to recent studies.
Studies Linking Elmiron to Eye Damage
In October 2019, Kaiser Permanente submitted a study to the American Academy of Opthalmology that established a link between Elmiron and damage to the eye. The research found that the drug affects the retina, which is the thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye responsible for light reception and enabling people to see.
The study looked at 140 patients who had each consumed approximately 5,000 pills over a 15-year period. Results showed that the retina sustained gradual damage as the number of pills consumed increased.
The Kaiser Permanente study, which involved three ophthalmologists, was not the first. In 2018, Dr. Nieraj Jain conducted his own study at the Emory Eye Center located in Atlanta, Georgia. The study discovered that six patients who had taken Elmiron for nearly 15 years had suffered varying degrees of injury to the retina known as the macula. The macula helps us see clearly in addition to the rest of the retina. The study culminated in a warning about the potential retinal damage that Elmiron could cause.
Side Effects of Elmiron and Getting Screened
Currently, permanent vision loss isn’t listed as one of the side effects on the Elmiron website. Some side effects listed that affect less than one percent of consumers, according to the website, include:
- Optic neuritis
- Retinal hemorrhage
Other diagnoses and side effects that people may experience include blurred vision, pigmentary maculopathy, macular degeneration, visual disturbances, pattern dystrophy, retinal maculopathy, and bilateral or unilateral blindness.
As of 2020, personal injury lawsuits have arisen claiming that long-term exposure to Elmiron can cause maculopathy, which is a kind of eye disorder that affects the macula and causes permanent vision loss.
Even if an individual doesn’t show signs of retinal damage resulting from Elmiron, Kaiser Permanente ophthalmologist Dr. Vora recommends getting screened for damage to the retina at least once a year. If a patient is showing any early signs of vision loss, patients may be able to reverse the symptoms by avoiding taking Elmiron.
Patients should speak with their urologist or OB/GYN before stopping the medication.