Vice-President, Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria and Consultant Ophthalmologist at The Eye Doctors Clinic, Dr. Abiola Oyeleye, says some glaucoma eye drops can ‘minimally increase’ the incidence of sexual dysfunction and impotence.
He, however, added that the benefits of the eye drops far outweigh the consideration of not using them.
Oyeleye spoke in reaction to a study published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information on the correlation in severity between glaucoma and erectile dysfunction.
The study states that there is a positive association between the presence of erectile dysfunction and diagnosis of glaucoma.
The research was led by Geoffrey Law of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, Canada.
A total of 167 male patients over 40 years of age who attended ophthalmology clinic visits in Vancouver, Canada, participated in the study by providing written consent and responding to the survey.
The authors excluded patients with previous radiation or surgical prostate treatment, leaving final sample sizes of 61 glaucoma patients and 67 control patients.
“Presence and severity of erectile dysfunction were determined using a validated patient questionnaire (the International Index of Erectile Function questionnaire).
“Presence of glaucoma was based on previous clinical diagnosis, and severity was graded based on visual field index using a 30-2 visual field test with the SITA Standard protocol. The bivariate analysis examined the presence of ED in glaucoma patients versus controls.
“Risk factors including dyslipidemia, diabetes, hypertension, and smoking were adjusted for using multiple logistic regression. The association between glaucoma and erectile dysfunction severity was assessed with correlation and scatterplot analysis,” the researchers said.
The result of the study showed that “glaucoma was found to be a significant risk factor for erectile dysfunction in our population, with an odds ratio of 2.58 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.15-5.83). The severity of glaucoma and erectile dysfunction were significantly correlated (r=0.365, P=0.007).”
The researchers concluded that the results of the study demonstrate that there is a positive association between the presence of erectile dysfunction and the diagnosis of glaucoma and a positive association between the severity of erectile dysfunction and the severity of glaucoma.
Also, a population-based case-control study published in the ScienceDirect on Open-Angle Glaucoma and the risk of erectile dysfunction identified a novel association between erectile dysfunction and prior OAG.
The study, led by physician Shiu-Dong Chung, used conditional logistic regression analysis to estimate the odds ratio and 95 percent confidence interval of having previously been diagnosed with Open-Angle Glaucoma according to the presence/absence of erectile dysfunction after adjusting for patient’s monthly income, geographical location, hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, hyperlipidemia, obesity, and alcohol abuse.
They concluded that, “In total, prior Open-Angle Glaucoma was found among 137 subjects (0.5 percent); 53 individuals (1.1 percent of the erectile dysfunction patients) from the cases and 84 individuals (0.4 percent of patients without erectile dysfunction) from the controls.
Speaking in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, Dr. Oyeleye said glaucoma eye drops are in the family of Beta-blockers.
According to online portal WebMD, Beta-blockers are drugs that block the effects of adrenaline — the hormone that triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response when you’re stressed.
This slows the heart rate and eases up on the force the heart squeezes with. The blood pressure goes down because the heart isn’t working so hard.
These medicines can also relax blood vessels so the blood flows better.
Oyeleye said, “Glaucoma eye drops in the family called Beta-blockers (Timolol, Betaxolol, and Levobunolol) have been linked to erectile dysfunction.
“There are also some tablets we prescribe (acetazolamide) in the family of Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, which can also cause erectile dysfunction.”
The ophthalmologist said a few ways have been suggested on how those eye drops are linked to erectile dysfunction.
“The central nervous system may be affected by depression or reduction in activity, the direction of blood away from the penis.
“Psychologically, some individuals have the knowledge and expectation of this side effect, and then develop erectile dysfunction, with no other cause found,” he said.
Asked if the eye drops can cause low sex drive or low libido in women, Oyeleye said, “If we consider the fact that the central nervous system effects are said to be contributory, there is a possibility that libido in women may be affected.
“Men are more affected. However, let me stress that this is not common in either sex.
“Recent research studies on this topic have linked the disease itself (glaucoma) to a relationship with erectile dysfunction as they both affect blood circulation to organs, irrespective of medication.”
The expert advised anyone experiencing problems achieving or maintaining an erection while taking such medication not to stop the medication but to talk with his ophthalmologist or General Practitioner.
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