How are Metal on Metal Hip Implants Related to Vision Problems?
Vision loss is just one of the devastating effects on the body from a metal on metal hip implant. The ball and cup in a hip implant rub together too much, it can and release metal debris into your body. When this happens, the levels of cobalt and chromium (or metal ions) in your blood increase. Consequently, if metal ion levels in your blood get too high, you can develop vision loss from metal poisoning.
You are at increased risk of heavy metal poisoning and associated vision problems if your implant is metal-on-metal. Your risk of metallosis is especially high if your implant has fractured or requires revision surgery.
What does it feel like to have vision loss caused by metal poisoning?
If you have had any of these symptoms in one or both eyes, your hip implant may be the cause:
- Blind spots
- Blurred vision
- General loss of vision
- General discomfort (ex. dry eyes or irritation)
- Deteriorating ability to see or distinguish colors
Types of vision problems caused by metal poisoning from a hip implant:
If your doctor tells you that you’re experiencing any of the following conditions in one or both eyes, your hip implant may be the cause:
- Optic nerve atrophy: damage to the eye’s main nerve
- Chorio-retinal atrophy: damage to the choroid region of the retina, which supplies blood and oxygen to the retina
- Retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) damage: damage to the pigmented layer of the retina
- Cone dysfunction/dystrophy: damage to the cone cells of the retina, which are mostly responsible for helping you see colors
- Scotoma: an abnormal blind spot
- Relative afferent pupillary defect (RAPD): pupils responding differently to light stimulation during a swinging-flashlight test
- Thickening of the macula: deformation in the macula region of the retina
Other warning signs that you might have severe metal poisoning:
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms or conditions in addition to vision problems, it is very likely that your implant has raised your metal ion levels to an extremely dangerous level, causing your vision loss:
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Early morning nausea
- Lab tests showing elevated cobalt and chromium levels
- Shortness of breath
- Heart failure (see our “cobalt cardiomyopathy page” for more information)
- Memory loss (see our “dementia” page for more information)
- Hearing loss
- Ringing in your ears
- Other signs of implant failure (popping, squeaking or pain in your hip)
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
How doctors diagnose vision problems triggered by metal-on-metal hip implants:
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, your doctor should conduct multiple eye exams to determine what conditions you have. Your doctor should also test your cobalt and chromium levels because it is possible that your implant has given you severe metal poisoning. If your cobalt and chromium levels are very high, you should ask your doctor if you may need revision hip surgery.
Why does this happen?
The retina requires a constant supply of oxygen in order to function. Cobalt reduces blood flow in the eye, which essentially stops the retina from receiving enough oxygen and causes it to malfunction. This produces many of the vision loss symptoms.
Is vision loss due to metallosis curable?
Revision surgery on your implant can successfully decrease the metal ions in your blood. When the metal ions in your blood go back down to normal levels, your vision can improve and even return to normal. However, if you wait too long to receive treatment, the metallosis can become too severe to recover your vision.
What Does Metallosis Feel Like?
Metallosis causes a number of serious health complications, which are detailed in the section above. However, some people with metallosis also report experiencing the following symptoms:
- Metallic taste in your mouth
- Early morning nausea
- Physical signs of implant failure (popping, squeaking or pain in the hip)
- Shortness of breath
- Ringing in your ears or hearing loss
- Depression and anxiety
- Blurry vision
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor immediately about your metal on metal hip. Ask for a blood test to check your metal ion levels for metallosis. However, it is important to remember that many patients with metallosis exhibit no symptoms, so you should still have your metal ion levels tested regularly to make sure that your implant is not failing.
Is Metallosis Treatable?
Having a hip revision surgery should decrease the metal particles being released into your blood and allow your metal ion levels to go back down to normal. A revision surgery is a second operation where the surgeon removes the defective metal on metal hip and replaces it with a different type of hip implant.
Report Your Problems to the FDA
There is something you can do: Report your adverse metal on metal hip experience to the FDA by filling out a MedWatch form.
Hip manufacturers are required to report all hip failures to the FDA but often find loopholes to keep this data hidden.
If the FDA doesn’t have accurate reporting of patients suffering from serious complications, then neither does your surgeon. Your doctors rely on FDA data to diagnose problems and know when a specific type of hip implant is having issues.
Don’t let the hip implant makers brush your information under the rug. Most people don’t know that you can self-report problems. The FDA needs to hear from you. Empower yourself against these huge corporations who put profits above your health.
It’s simple to fill out and an important way to make your voice heard. Here is a link to the form:
Our Extensive Legal Experience in Metal on Metal Hip Litigation
➨ Maglio Christopher & Toale, P.A. is one of only a handful of law firms in the nation that has reviewed the millions of discovery documents involved in this type of litigation. Other law firms contact our attorneys for advice on these types of cases.
➨ Our attorneys have personally questioned under oath dozens of orthopedic hip manufacturer’s employees from all over the world, including surgeons, designers, marketing executives, and corporate CEOs.
➨ In 2008 Maglio Christopher & Toale, P.A. filed the first lawsuit in the United States against a manufacturer of the current generation of defective metal-on-metal hip replacements. Ever since we have been at the forefront of litigation against the makers of these defective medical devices across the United States.
➨ We have developed contacts within the orthopedic community, an understanding of how that community works, and we have extensive medical and technical knowledge about defective orthopedic hip replacements.
➨ MCT Law is aggressively and actively litigating defective metal on metal hip cases through the U.S. state and federal court systems. We are not waiting for a settlement that may never come because our clients need help now.