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Hormonal birth control pills have been linked to severe headaches or vision loss associated with idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH).

What is Ocella?

Ocella, a birth control pill, was introduced in July 2008 as a generic version of Yasmin. Both contain ingredients that are manufactured by Bayer HealthCare, including the same amounts of active hormones — estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and progestin (drospirenone).

Ocella and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

Ocella was not associated with IIH in clinical trials and it is unknown if Ocella causes this disease. The term “idiopathic” means “unknown cause.” However, birth control pills are among dozens of risk-factors for IIH, according to the National Institute of Health.

Ocella and Blood Clots

In April 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the prescribing information for Beyaz to include new warnings about the risk of blood clots. Studies have linked drospirenone, an ingredient in Ocella, with a three-fold increased risk of blood clots. When arterial blood clots travel to the brain, they can physically obstruct the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and increase pressure on the brain. This condition, known as “secondary intracranial hypertension,” is very similar to IIH.</>

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH)

In patients with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH), pressure inside the skull (cranium) builds up due to abnormal levels of cerebrospinal fluid. Normally, this fluid surrounds the brain and acts like a shock-absorber to protect it from traumatic impacts. When there is too much fluid, it puts pressure on the brain, optic nerve, and optic disc.

Papilledema

Papilledema is a complication of IIH that occurs when there is pressure on the optic disc (located at the “blind spot”), which causes swelling (edema). This complication can often be diagnosed with an eye exam. Over time, it can cause progressive enlargement of the blind spot, decreased field of vision, double-vision, episodes of blurry vision, and more. IIH can also damage the optic nerve and cause blindness.

Symptoms of IIH

  • Headache
  • Migraine
  • Double-vision
  • Blurry vision (may last 30 seconds and improve)
  • Light-sensitivity (photophobia)
  • Enlargement of the blind spot
  • Blindness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Tinnitus
  • And more

 

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