Annual visits to the eye doctor are recommended for everyone, but people with certain ailments must go more often. Pseudotumor cerebri (PTC) is a condition in which excess cerebral spinal fluid accumulates in the brain. This often leads to symptoms of a tumor, although there is no tumor present, only pressure and excess cerebral spinal fluid. Symptoms of PTC include severe headaches, vomiting, nausea, pulsatile tinnitus, and vision problems. Untreated cases can cause damage to the optic nerve, which could lead to partial or even full vision loss. This is why regular appointments to the eye doctor are necessary in order to carefully monitor the eyesight. Each individual case is different, and the eye doctor will determine how often a patient needs to be examined.
What to expect at the eye doctor's office
For individuals with PTC, eye exams are a great deal more thorough than a typical exam. The optometrist or ophthalmologist will need to use special eye drops to dilate the pupils of the eyes. This allows more light to enter the eyes, giving the doctor a complete view of the optic nerve and other parts of the eye. With the ability to see the eye clearly, the doctor can determine if any optic nerve damage exists and what type of vision loss might be present as a result. The specialist can also determine if surgical repair of the nerve might be warranted. Other non-customary tests will be done at the visit, too, such as visual field tests that check for peripheral vision abnormalities.
PTC treatments and prognosis
Treatment for PTC varies, depending on the patient's most predominant symptoms. Some patients require steroids to quickly reduce the pressure inside the head. Medications to rid the body of excess fluids often help immensely with relieving excess cerebral spinal fluid. Spinal taps, which are often necessary for diagnostic purposes, can also provide immediate relief due to the fact that fluid is removed from the brain during the procedure. If optic nerve swelling exists and the eyesight is negatively affected, then surgery may be warranted to correct any vision problems.
People with PTC must undergo eye exams on a regular basis in order to preserve their eyesight. Treatment like medication and surgery are often successful, but in some people weight loss is recommended, since the condition is more prevalent in overweight women in their childbearing years. Although PTC can be very serious and debilitating, with the right treatment and a quick diagnosis, full remission is possible. Even if the eyesight has been damaged, any vision loss can often be reversed once the condition is properly treated.