A pituitary tumor is a benign or malignant irregular growth that develops in the pituitary gland. This gland is located at the base of an individual's brain. It is responsible for the regulation of all the other glands located throughout the body. The pituitary gland carries out these functions through making and excreting various hormones, including growth hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone, prolactin, vasopressin, and oxytocin. Aside from rare hereditary cases, the cause of pituitary tumor development is not known.
Pituitary tumor treatment depends on the type, location, and severity of the tumor. Some patients will have surgery to remove the pituitary tumor. Radiation therapy for pituitary tumors is also fairly common. Hormone medications and tumor-shrinking medications may also be used to treat pituitary tumors.
An individual who has a smaller size pituitary tumor will not typically experience vision problems. However, individuals who have pituitary tumors larger than one centimeter in diameter may develop vision loss in one or both of their eyes. Sometimes certain components of their vision will become compromised, such as peripheral vision. Another common vision issue that occurs in pituitary tumor patients is double vision.
An individual's eyes are situated a few centimeters in front where the pituitary gland is housed. This is an area referred to as the pituitary sella. Two thick bands made up of hundreds of nerve fibers connect the eyes to the brain, allowing visual data to travel to the brain where it is processed. A pituitary tumor that is large enough can compress one or both of these optic nerve cables. The compression can result in a disruption of data impulses between the eyes and the brain. This malfunction is what produces visual symptoms.