Pentosan polysulfate maculopathy


      • Long-term use of pentosan polysulfate (trade name Elmiron) can cause maculopathy.
      • Incidence is dose dependent with a 1,818 g median cumulative dosage in reported cases.
      • May result in prominent macular dysfunction, especially in cases with RPE atrophy.
      • Multimodal imaging including fundus autofluorescence is key in diagnosis.
      • Routine annual screening is suggested for all patients using PPS.


      Pentosan polysulfate sodium (PPS), a semisynthetic sulfated polysaccharide, is the only FDA-approved oral therapy for interstitial cystitis. Recent studies have described a progressive, vision-threatening macular condition associated with long-term PPS use. We reviewed all publications concerning PPS maculopathy to consolidate known clinical features and to evaluate the strength of this association. Current literature supports a strong dose-dependent association between PPS exposure and a progressive maculopathy impacting the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and RPE-photoreceptor interface that may worsen even after drug cessation. Initial symptoms may include prolonged dark adaptation and difficulty reading with relative visual acuity preservation. Fundus examination often shows macular pigment clumps corresponding to lesions of focal RPE thickening. Fundus autofluorescence most clearly depicts the condition, with a distinctive pattern of hypo- and hyperautofluorescent spots in the posterior pole that sometimes extends to the retinal periphery. Many cases also show a characteristic peripapillary hypoautofluorescent halo. Near infrared reflectance may aid in early detection. RPE atrophy, cystoid macular edema, and macular neovascularization may also occur, potentially resulting in loss of central acuity. This newly described association implies significant public health risk. Ophthalmologists should screen PPS users with multimodal retinal imaging, and prescribers should minimize dose and duration of PPS use.


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