Nearly one in three brain tumors are meningiomas, which are slow-growing tumors that originate in the spiderweb-like, three-layer membrane (meninges) that covers the brain and spinal cord. Specifically, a meningioma growth arises out of the arachnoid cells that make up the middle layer of this thin protective membrane.
Most meningiomas are noncancerous. Furthermore, they usually don’t invade other tissues, and they often respond well to treatment. Because these tumors emerge between the brain and the skull, they tend to grow slowly inward. A meningioma is more likely to cause symptoms once it’s large enough to start pushing on important brain structures.
In this blog, fellowship-trained neurosurgical oncologist Jose Valerio, MD, discusses how various types of meningioma tumors can affect your vision. He also explains when your symptoms may warrant a comprehensive neurological evaluation with diagnostic imaging tests.
Types of vision problems a meningioma tumor can trigger
A meningioma can cause a wide range of symptoms depending on its size and location. Not all meningiomas cause vision-related symptoms and problems. Only tumors that push into the brain or structures that control your vision may eventually cause vision changes and other eye problems, such as:
- Persistent double vision
- Blurry or dimmed vision
- High intraocular pressure
- Bulging eye appearance
- Unexplained vision loss
If a meningioma tumor is located on or near an ocular structure, it will be more likely to cause symptoms in just the affected eye. However, if it presses into any of the brain structures that control vision — such as the cerebrum, pons area of the brainstem, or occipital lobe — it will be more likely to trigger vision problems in both eyes.
Meningioma subtypes that can trigger vision problems
Meningioma tumors are categorized by type based on their location as well as their disease characteristics (low-grade, mid-grade, or fast-growing). The following meningioma subtypes are most likely to trigger vision-related symptoms:
- Optic nerve sheath meningioma, which develops around the optic nerve
- Sphenoid wing meningioma, which occurs along a ridge of bone behind the eyes
- Skull base meningioma, which forms on the skull base behind the eyes
- Intraorbital meningioma, which develops in or around the eye sockets
- Suprasellar meningioma, which forms at the skull base near the optic nerve root
- Olfactory groove meningioma, which emerges along the nose-brain nerve pathway
Even among meningioma subtypes that trigger vision problems, symptoms can vary greatly. An intraorbital tumor is more likely to cause a buildup of intraocular pressure that causes the affected eye to bulge and may lead to vision loss, whereas a suprasellar meningioma is more likely to trigger visual disturbances in both eyes from a centrally compressed optic nerve root.
An olfactory groove meningioma typically causes loss of smell first, but it can give rise to vision symptoms later if it grows large enough to press on ocular structures.
Additional meningioma symptoms to watch out for
By themselves, the kind of vision symptoms you may experience because of a meningioma growth aren’t tell-tale warning signs of a brain tumor. In fact, most of these eyesight problems could be indicative of any number of other vision concerns or ocular health conditions.
However, if your vision problems occur alongside other potential meningioma indicators, it may be a good idea to discuss your symptoms with Dr. Valerio. Common meningioma signs include:
- Chronic headache pain
- Unexplained seizures
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness or drowsiness
- Confusion or memory problems
- Hearing loss or ringing in the ears
- Personality or behavioral changes
- Overactive reflexes (hyperreflexia)
- Muscle weakness or paralysis
Sphenoid wing meningiomas, which account for about 20% of diagnosed meningioma tumors, typically cause vision problems, loss of sensation in the face (facial numbness), and seizures.
Are you worried that you may have a brain tumor?
If you’ve been experiencing symptoms that leave you feeling worried you may have a brain tumor, give us a call today. Any time you notice chronic headaches, new seizures, slowly increasing signs of mental dysfunction, or evidence of pressure inside your skull — such as swelling of the optic nerve behind your eye — it’s time for a comprehensive neurological assessment.
From meningioma diagnosis and treatment to long-term follow-up care, you’re in good hands with Dr. Valerio. To learn more, book an appointment over the phone with the practice of Jose Valerio, MD, today. We have locations in South Miami, Hialeah, and Weston, Florida.