Can Erectile Dysfunction Medications Cause Eye Damage?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is very common, affecting nearly 50% of men over the age of 40. Left untreated, ED can have a significant impact on a man’s relationship, self-esteem and overall well-being.

Due to popularity and availability of certain ED medications, many men who face erectile dysfunction often turn to phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5Is) based medications to combat their sexual health issues. Drugs such as sildenafil (e.g., Viagra), vardenafil (e.g., Levitra and Staxyn), tadalafil (e.g., Cialis), and avanafil (e.g., Stendra) are prescribed regularly to millions of ED sufferers who may not be aware of their side effects. However, one eye opening study may have found a correlation between taking these drugs regularly with an 85% increase in serious vision problems.

Erectile Dysfunction Drugs And Risk Of Eye Damage

A recent study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, says men using erectile dysfunction medication can develop serious eye problems, including retinal detachment. Retinal detachment happens when the retina separates from the blood vessels that provide the retina oxygen and nourishment. Exudative or serous retinal detachment (SRD) is a rare type of retinal detachment, which occurs when fluid accumulates under the retina and pushes it away from the blood vessels. This is a serious condition that may require emergency care.

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What Did The Study Find?

The study followed 213,000 male participants who took erectile dysfunction (ED) medication, including sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil, and avanafil. Among the participants, the study authors registered 1,146 cases that involved eye health issues. These included 278 cases of SRD (serous retinal detachment), 628 cases of RVO (retinal vascular occultation), and 240 cases of ION (ischemic optic neuropathy). The mean age for all participants was almost 65 years old.

“Mechanistically, studies have found that PDE5Is may be associated with compromised perfusion of the optic nerve,” noted Mahyar Etminan, PharmD, an associate professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of British Columbia which led the research.

“Findings of this cohort study suggest that regular users of PDE5Is might have an increased risk for SRD, RVO, and ION. Regular users of PDE5Is need to be cognizant of ocular adverse events associated with these drugs and alert their physicians if they experience any visual deficits,” the authors further wrote.

Are There Alternatives to ED Drugs?

This study may cause men to forgo prescription ED drugs for their erectile dysfunction and look for other, safer solutions. Luckily, there are other non-surgical treatments available to help them regain a healthy sex life. Two recent customizable treatment plans that have been proven safe and effective are PRP Shots and Shockwave Therapy.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections

Platelet rich plasma penile injection therapy (also commonly known as PRP shots) is a new, regenerative treatment option for erectile dysfunction (ED). It is a non-surgical solution that utilizes growth factors extracted from a sample of one’s own blood to stimulate new tissue growth within the penis, generally resulting in improved erections.

How the PRP Shot Works

This process uses platelet rich plasma, a nutrient and growth factor rich portion of the patient’s own blood and incorporates pain-free injections of his own platelet-rich plasma to rejuvenate the penis and stimulate new tissue growth.

The extracted blood goes through a proprietary process to separate the platelets into a concentrated plasma. These platelets are then used for the PRP shot. The penile injection delivers several different growth factors which stimulate the cells, collagen and blood vessels to rejuvenate tissue. PRP injections could be an excellent choice for men with health conditions that are risk factors for pharmaceutical drugs.

Shockwave Therapy

ED shockwave therapy is an innovative medical treatment that uses low intensity sound waves to treat the vascular cause of erectile dysfunction, and not just its symptoms.

Shockwave therapy has been successfully tested and regularly used in various areas of medicine including Orthopedics, Aesthetic Medicine, and Sports Medicine. There are numerous scientific studies that show shockwave therapy can potentially improve local revascularization (regeneration of blood vessels and enhanced blood flow) on a variety of body parts, including the penis.The aim of ED shockwave therapy (EDSWT) is to trigger regeneration of blood vessel in the penile shaft to support stronger, longer, and more satisfying erection.

How ED Shockwave Therapy (EDSWT) Works

Inside the penis is an area called the corpora cavernosa, containing two arteries. An erection occurs when they are filled with blood that’s held in place until ejaculation or orgasm is achieved. When there is insufficient blood flow, the penis remains flaccid.

EDSWT directs energy waves, (extra corporeal shockwaves are the clinical term) with the goal to improve blood flow to the penis. The waves are targeted to the area of the body where blood flow has been constrained. The procedure is generally safe for men with heart disease, unlike some erectile dysfunction drugs.

The benefits of EDSWT include:

  • Generally painless and low risk treatment
  • No known extra major risk to men with complicated health conditions
  • No recovery period

Experience More Satisfying Sex Life Without Sacrificing Your Eyesight

Patients experiencing erectile dysfunction who are seeking to regain a healthy sex life may opt for a customised erectile dysfunction treatment plan instead of ED medication. Therapies that are based on case-by-case diagnoses, such as PRP shots and shockwave therapy, are safe and effective options that can avoid the possible eye damaging side-effects caused by erectile dysfunction drugs.
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