Viagra and Blindness: Things Aren’t so Dreadful

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viagra stops blindness

You have probably seen frightening articles on the Internet, which say that Viagra is a dangerous drug that can lead to eye problems and even blindness. However, as they say, devil is not so black as he is painted. Should you be wary of this drug? Or vice versa, can it be helpful to people with vision problems?

Facts about Viagra’s Influence on Eyes

In 2005, Dr. Howard Pomeranz, who heads the Department of Neuro-Ophthalmology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, notified the medical community about at least seven known cases of blindness associated with Viagra. According to him, the loss of vision in such occasions was due to the cessation of blood flow to the optic nerve and was usually observed in people suffering from diabetes mellitus and/or hypertension. According to medical terminology, this condition is referred to as NAION (Non-arteritic Ischemic Optic Neuropathy).

In 2014, scientists at the University of New South Wales described the property of sildenafil to negatively affect human vision. This property is associated with the fact that the drug makes it difficult for the normal functioning of the enzyme, which plays a decisive role in the transport of light signals from the eye to the human brain. In animal studies, it was found that rats with diseases of the retina suffered a significant degeneration during administration of the drug.

In addition, the official instructions contain data that Viagra can rarely cause the following eye-related side effects:

  • retinal hemorrhage;
  • arteriosclerotic retinopathy,
  • glaucoma;
  • visual field defects which can cause a blind spot;
  • diplopia (commonly known as double vision);
  • reduced clarity of vision;
  • myopia (nearsightedness);
  • asthenopia;
  • vitreous opacities;
  • abnormalities of the iris;
  • mydriasis (dilation of the pupil of the eye);
  • glowing circles around the light source (halo) in sight;
  • eye swelling;
  • conjunctival hyperemia;
  • irritation;
  • abnormal sensations;
  • eyelid edema;
  • sclera discoloration.

What Does the Science Say? (Calming Facts)

Back in 2005, experts from the Pfizer company (manufacturer of the drug) stated that, according to their extensive observations, the association of Viagra with blindness was not found. 13 thousand people in 103 clinical studies did not experience this serious side effect.

A study by Helen V Danesh-Meyer & Leonard A Levin (Br J Ophthalmol. 2007 Nov) showed that the FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) and WHO (World Health Organization) concluded that “there is currently no convincing evidence” of a causal link between the use of PDE5i meds and the risk of NAION. However, as a precautionary measure, the FDA recommended that patients “stop taking these medicines and immediately call a doctor or healthcare provider if they experience a sudden or reduced vision loss in one or both eyes.” This causes some uncertainty.

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The Opposite (and Controversial) Opinion: a New Cure for Blindness?

In 2018, scientists at Columbia University in NY reported curious results of their 2-year study. They suggested that the blue pill may be helpful in case of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This condition is the key cause of visual impairment and subsequent blindness in some countries. The drug allegedly can put an end to the progression of vision loss and even eliminate critical damage.

Dry AMD, the most widespread type of the disease, can begin to develop after the age of 50, slowly progressing. It is caused by the proliferation of new vessels over macula lutea, the place of greatest visual acuity in the retina. As a result, a person develops difficulties while recognizing faces, various elements, etc.

According to medical science, one of the causes of this disease is the deterioration of blood flow to the pigment between the retina and the sclera. How can Viagra help in this case? It improves genital blood flow with erectile dysfunction; in case of AMD it acts in a similar way, improving blood flow to the eye tissue.

New York scientists reported that sildenafil improved the vision of one research participant and stopped the deterioration of the disease in other participants (there were 5 of them). Therefore, in their opinion, Viagra has great potential for the treatment of eye diseases. However, more extensive experiments are needed to confirm this (so far quite hypothetical) possibility.

Conclusions

Thus, Viagra can potentially be either a friend or foe to the eyes, depending on the disease that a particular patient has. Therefore, elderly patients with serious eye disorders are advised to consult a physician if they plan to take Viagra (sildenafil-based medicaments). Nevertheless, in general, it is a fairly safe tool that is gradually becoming an OTC remedy around the world.

Updated: April 8, 2019 by: Vincent