Regular use of erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs may increase a man’s risk of developing vision problems at some point in his life, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canadafound that men who use ED drugs like Viagra and Cialis are a staggering 85 percent more likely to develop eye problems, which can cause vision problems — including blindness — than other men.
While the risk of going blind or suffering other problems from erectile dysfunction drugs remains extremely low, researchers caution that this may be an understated side effect.
About ten percent of men will develop ED at some point in their lives, and these drugs are very common cures for it.
Men who take Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs are 85% more likely to suffer from a variety of potential eye problems (file photo)
Researchers who published their findings in Thursday JAMA Ophthalmologyconducted an extensive study that included data from over 200,000 men.
They collected data on health insurance claims from men who did not have an eye problem in the year before starting ED medication.
The team looked for men who reported serous retinal detachment (SRD), retinal vascular occlusion (RVO), or ischemic optic neuropathy (ION).
They found that recipients of ED medication were 2.58 times more likely to report a case of SRD, which they described in a statement as “a buildup of fluid behind the retina without tears or breaks.”
Rates of RVO, a “blood clot in the veins or arteries of the retina,” were 1.44 times higher in ED patients receiving medication.
ION, which affects the body’s blood supply to a person’s optic nerve and can even cause blindness, was 2.02 times more likely in recipients of the drug.
While the chances of developing any of these conditions were still very low, the researchers are alarmed by their findings.
“These are rare diseases and the risk of developing one remains very low for any individual user. However, the sheer number of prescriptions dispensed each month in the United States – about 20 million – means a significant number of people could be affected,” said Dr. Mahyar Etminan, Associate Professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at UBC, made a statement.
“Regular users of these drugs who notice any changes in their vision should take this seriously and see a doctor.”
Researchers can pinpoint the mechanism of this increased risk and find that they have only demonstrated correlation, not causation.
However, they believe that the way the drugs affect a person’s blood flow is to blame for the eye problems.
About half of men in their 50s suffer from ED. As a result, the consumption of drugs such as Viagra (pictured) has skyrocketed in recent years
“These drugs treat erectile dysfunction by improving blood flow, but we know they can also impede blood flow in other parts of the body,” Etminan said.
“Although our study does not prove cause and effect, there is a mechanism by which these drugs could potentially lead to these problems.
“The body of evidence points to a strong link.”
ED is a very common problem in men, especially as they get older.
SingleCare reports that men over 40 are three times more likely to have ED compared to younger men.
Half of men in their 50s will suffer from ED, and around 30 million Americans currently suffer from it.
The most popular drug used to treat the condition is Viagra, which was developed by Pfizer and it has seen one increase in usage in the past few years.