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Pictures of women holding glasses in their hands.

Elmiron (pentosan polysulfate sodium) is a medication used to treat various conditions such as interstitial cystitis, urinary tract infections, and osteoarthritis. Although it is the only FDA-approved drug used to treat interstitial cystitis, long-term use of this medication has been linked to a number of vision disorders.

Elmiron and Maculopathy

Maculopathy is a condition that affects the macula, the central part of the retina associated with highly sensitive, accurate vision. It shields the retina from UV and blue light and allows one to see fine details clearly. In 2018, Emory Eye Center in Atlanta, GA reported that patients who had been taking a standard dosage of Elmiron, from 200-400mg a day, for about 15 years developed unusual changes in their macula.

In 2019, they found that an additional 10 patients diagnosed with interstitial cystitis and prescribed Elmiron all showed symptoms of pigmentary maculopathy.

Ophthalmologists at Kaiser Permanente also conducted their own study showing that 24% of their patients who had taken Elmiron for at least five years showed eye damage.

Studies show that even after patients discontinue taking the drug, progressive damage to their vision such as eye pain, vision changes in low light, difficulty reading, and challenges adapting to low-light environments still occurred.

Scientists have discovered that the greater the quantity of Elmiron taken, the more significant the damage. Elmiron is also associated with conditions such as:

  • Retinal Hemorrhage
  • Amblyopia
  • Optic Neuritis

In the late-stage, these disorders can mimic dry atrophic age-related macular degeneration resulting in permanent vision loss.

Who Can Be Held Responsible?

Elmiron is manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Ongoing investigations suggest that the company may have known about the connection between the drug and its ocular risks for decades. Whitley Law Firm is pursuing claims against Janssen on behalf of women who have taken the medication and subsequently suffered from the aforementioned vision problems.

What’s Next?

Patients should not start or stop taking any medications without first speaking with their doctor, but it may be helpful for those who have been prescribed Elmiron to discuss alternative treatments with their physicians and be screened for retinal damage at least once a year. If you or a loved one has taken Elmiron and suffered from vision problems contact us at 919-785-5000 to see how we can help.

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