If you’re experiencing ongoing discomfort in your bladder, you may have interstitial cystitis. This is a chronic condition that stems from a confusion of nerve signals around your bladder. Most people end up urinating more frequently in smaller amounts. Over time, pressure builds in the bladder, resulting in pain that can extend down to the pelvic region.  

Currently, there is no cure for interstitial cystitis, but there are treatment options available that can help reduce symptoms and alleviate discomfort. One of these is the medication Pentosan polysulfate (PPS). 

More commonly known under the brand Elmiron, PPS is currently the only FDA-approved oral medicine for treating pain and discomfort stemming from interstitial cystitis. Unfortunately, recent studies have found an increasing correlation between Elmiron and a unique type of maculopathy called pigmentary maculopathy.

What is maculopathy? It’s a degenerative disease that affects the retina, greatly impairing vision over time. 

Elmiron and Eye Disease  

Though Elmiron has proven successful in treating interstitial cystitis, medical professionals aren’t entirely sure why. The drug presumably works by restoring a mucus layer within the bladder. This, in theory, protects the bladder wall from bacteria and other irritating substances found in urine. Previously, common side-effects have included hair loss, diarrhea, nausea, irritability, and skin rashes.  

The first potential link to eye disease was reported in 2018. After that, three ophthalmologists in California conducted a review to further explore the connection. They found that roughly 25% of patients with significant Elmiron exposure showed definite signs of eye damage. Many of these people had been misdiagnosed with other types of maculopathy, often relating to age. 

Currently, it is being recommended that anyone taking Elmiron be screened for signs of damage once a year. If identified early, damage can be alleviated by discontinuing the medication.  

How to Treat Interstitial Cystitis 

To treat interstitial cystitis, you should first visit a urologist to be accurately diagnosed. Women are more likely to develop interstitial cystitis, though it can occur in men. The symptoms and severity of interstitial cystitis can vary, and flare-ups can often occur. If you are experiencing on-going pain or discomfort in your bladder or pelvic regions, see a urologist. 

If you have interstitial cystitis, there are alternatives to Elmiron available for treatment. First, your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes, bladder training, physical therapy, and possibly more standard pain medication.  

For treatment of more severe cases, surgery is an option. This may include enlarging the bladder, removing the bladder, or rerouting urine flow. To learn about the options available to you, speak with a urologist. 

Contact Urology Specialists of Ohio for urology in Dayton, Ohio and the greater Miami Valley area.