How is a Pituitary Tumor Diagnosed and Treated, and Is It Preventable?

The words pituitary tumors displayed on a screen next to a stethoscope

Health conditions can be scary, especially when they appear seemingly from nowhere. When the word “tumor” describes something happening in your body, it can cause anxiety or alarm. This anxiety is common for those with a pituitary tumor, often diagnosed by an eye care professional. Because many people neglect their eye care until they begin to have vision problems, it can be frightening to discover something wrong with their eyes that isn’t treatable because they didn’t get help early enough.

Did you know that regular eye exams, even if you do not wear glasses or contacts, can help discover eye conditions like a pituitary tumor, also known as a pituitary adenoma, before you even start to have symptoms? Watching out for pituitary tumors is only one reason you should have an annual eye exam. These exams could save your eyesight for the future, as your eye care professionals will track any changes in your eyes over the years and determine what is normal for you and what seems unusual.

At Campus Eye Center, we encourage everyone to visit their optometrist or ophthalmologist annually. If you are in the Lancaster, PA, area, we are here to help with annual exams, sudden vision problems, or eye disease management. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to see one of our experienced doctors.

Have questions about a pituitary tumor? Continue reading to learn more about pituitary tumors and how your eye care professional will diagnose and treat them if found.

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What is a Pituitary Adenoma?

pituitary tumor is an abnormal growth that affects that pituitary gland. This gland, part of the endocrine system, sits behind your nasal cavity at the base of the brain and controls several organs and bodily functions through hormone levels.

Pituitary adenomas are often benign but can still cause trouble for the pituitary gland. A pituitary tumor can cause havoc on your body by causing it to secrete too much or too little of the hormones it regulates. A pituitary adenoma may also pinch or compress the optic nerves associated with sight, causing some vision loss or total blindness.

Common Vision Symptoms of a Pituitary Tumor

General symptoms of a pituitary tumor include intense headaches in the forehead region, mood swings and depression, change in weight, and nausea or vomiting. When a pituitary tumor pinches or compresses the optic nerve, the visual symptoms of a pituitary tumor include double vision, loss of vision, and drooping eyelids.

A pituitary tumor may push on and limit the connection of several other nerves that affect your eye health. Because of this, you may also experience muscle weakness or crossed eyes.

Other Symptoms to Watch For

A pituitary tumor is technically considered a brain tumor. In some cases, pituitary adenoma will cause several issues. On the other hand, some patients will not experience any changes and will unknowingly go on with their lives with the tumor.

Those symptoms discussed previously aren’t the only things you may experience if you have a pituitary adenoma. When it comes to this disease, you may also experience weakness, feeling cold or freezing, disruptions in your sexual drive and abilities, and increased urination. In people who experience menstruation, there may also be disruptions to the menstrual cycle, causing less frequent menstrual periods or amenorrhea.

Even though our expert focus is best for the eye-related symptoms of a pituitary tumor in this blog article, it is essential to schedule an eye exam or doctor visit if you are experiencing any pituitary tumor symptoms discussed here.

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How Often Should You Get an Eye Exam?

An image of a woman having her eyes examined.If you have any symptoms of a pituitary tumor or other vision problems, err on the side of caution and schedule an appointment immediately instead of waiting until your next yearly exam. As we discussed earlier, you should get an eye exam every year—more often if you have vision or eye health problems.

At Campus Eye Center, we like to keep our patients in the loop with their diagnoses and treatment options, including scheduling appointments. However, we only suggest a schedule of appointments or exams that fit your lifestyle and eye health needs. Being proactive with annual exams and reactive when vision problems begin to appear can help preserve your vision now and in the future.

What is Your Doctor Looking for in an Exam?

At Campus Eye Center, our comprehensive eye exam includes a complete vision test, evaluation for eyeglasses or contact lenses, glaucoma screening, and pupil dilation to check for eye diseases. Many of these routine tests help our doctors assess for and find eye diseases and complications from problems like pituitary tumors.

However, suppose there is any concern you may have a pituitary tumor. In that case, your eye care professional may include other tests that look for specific abnormalities in eye movement or pupil dilation. As a result, your doctor will potentially order blood work to test for abnormal hormone levels. If your eye care professional feels that you have a pituitary tumor, they may also request an MRI to gauge the size of the tumor and the level of impairment it is causing.

Are Pituitary Tumors Preventable?

When people hear the word “tumor,” they automatically assume cancer. In most patients, pituitary tumors are not cancerous, so cancer prevention methods are unlikely to work. Unfortunately, this tumor is also not linked to many known risk factors. Some research suggests that hereditary conditions such as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1, also known as MEN1, may cause these tumors. Still, scientists are not entirely sure what causes pituitary adenoma.

The best form of prevention you have is to schedule regular eye exams. Your eye doctor will know what to look for and can help determine if you have a pituitary tumor often before you even experience any symptoms.

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Treatment Options for Pituitary Adenomas

Once your eye doctor has determined that you have a pituitary adenoma, they will discuss your treatment options. For many, a pituitary adenoma may present itself without symptoms. It may exist without any vision or health problems, and no treatment is necessary past monitoring the tumor for any changes.

For others, a pituitary tumor may railroad the body’s hormone levels, cause vision loss, or other life-changing symptoms. In this case, your eye doctor may recommend chemo, radiation therapy, surgery to remove the tumor, or a combination of treatment options.

Suppose your blood work shows changes in hormone levels from a pituitary tumor. In that case, your eye care professional may refer you to your primary care doctor or an endocrinologist for other treatment options.

Schedule an Eye Exam at Campus Eye Center Today!

Experiencing the symptoms of a pituitary adenoma can be frightening, but you don’t have to go through this alone. If you are experiencing symptoms of this disease, sudden changes in your vision, or haven’t had an eye exam in a long time, now is the time to do so.

Here at Campus Eye Center in Lancaster, PA, we care about the quality of life our patients have and aim only to provide the highest quality of care to ensure the best eye health possible. Schedule an appointment today to see one of our experienced doctors, and let us help you protect, preserve, and improve your vision.

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