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Visual Changes Caused by Pituitary Tumors November 11, 2014

Posted by mvarlan in Uncategorized.

The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain, behind the bridge of the nose, and beneath the optic chiasm (which brings vision into the brain). It also lies between important nerves that control eye mobility. It is about one-half inch (1.25 cm) in diameter.

Patients with small pituitary tumors do not typically develop visual symptoms. However, if a pituitary tumor has grown larger (usually more than 1 cm), a patient can develop visual loss in one or both eyes. In some cases, based on which part of the visual system is affected by a growing pituitary tumor, there can be reduced peripheral vision to both sides. When these changes happen gradually, they can sometimes be difficult to notice. Patients can also develop double vision in which they see two images instead of one. This occurs when the pituitary tumor compresses the nerves that control eye mobility. When the eyes are not aligned correctly, the brain will see double images.

MRI scans can identify a pituitary tumor and determine if it is pushing on the optic nerve or optic chiasm. In addition to this study, your physician should perform a number of tests to check if the pituitary tumor is affecting vision. The examination will include functional assessment of visual acuity, color vision, peripheral vision, eye movements, and the appearance of the retina and optic nerve.

Neuro-ophthalmology is a sub-specialty of both Neurology and Ophthalmology, which focuses on diseases of the nervous system that affect vision, control of eye movements, or pupillary reflexes. Thorough visual testing from a board certified neuro-ophthalmologist is crucial for those suffering with pituitary tumors.

The Barrow Pituitary Center is thrilled to announce the newest addition to our team. Dr. Jane Chan is Director of Neuro-ophthalmology at Barrow Neurological Institute, where she specializes in eye conditions related to neurological disorders. Not only will Dr. Chan provide clinical expertise to our patients before and after surgery, but she will also participate in research efforts and support professional education at the local level as well as internationally. Click here to read more about Jane Chan, MD.


Maggie Bobrowitz, RN, MBA
Neuroscience Program Coordinator
Barrow Pituitary Center

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