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UAB study links vision loss with Viagra, Cialis use

Jan 17, 2006 | Birmingham Business Journal

A study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham indicates men with a history of heart attack who use the erectile dysfunction medications Viagra or Cialis may be at increased risk for vision loss.

The study, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, indicates a link between use of the medications and non-arteritic anterior ischaemic optic neuropathy (NAION), a condition affecting up to 6,000 people each year in the United States.

The condition, described as a "stroke of the eye," can cause vision loss in one or both eyes. It is caused by insufficient blood flow to the optic nerve head, damaging the nerve and leading to permanent vision loss.

Gerald McGwin, an associate professor of epidemiology and ophthalmology at UAB and the lead author of the study, says his team's research uncovered a "strong link" between the medications and NAION incidents in men with a history of heart attack.

"We found similar results in men with hypertension which, while not as dramatic, are substantial enough to indicate that men with a history of either heart attack or hypertension should be warned of the risks of NAION before use of these medications," McGwin said.

He notes this is the first study to investigate the association since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggested in 2005 a link might exist.

The drug Levitra did not appear on the market until after the study began, so it is not included in the findings.

The study was funded by Research to Prevent Blindness Inc., and the Eyesight Foundation of Alabama.


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