Harvard Men's Health Watch

On call: Viagra and glaucoma

On call

Viagra and glaucoma

Q. I know that Viagra is safe for men with high blood pressure, but is it also safe for men with high eye pressures?

A. Viagra (sildenafil) is safe for men with hypertension as long as their blood pressure is well controlled. But the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology urge caution for patients who require complex multidrug programs to treat hypertension. And the alpha blockers, especially terazosin (Hytrin) and doxazosin (Cardura), don't mix well with the erectile dysfunction (ED) pills, especially vardenafil (Levitra) and tadalafil (Cialis). Doctors may consider monitoring these patients' blood pressures in the office after a test dose to be sure that Viagra does not produce a dangerous drop in blood pressure. And men who take nitrate medication in any form cannot use any of the ED pills because they can produce a life-threatening fall in blood pressure.

Glaucoma, usually signaled by an abnormally high pressure of the fluid in the eye, is altogether different. To see if Viagra is safe for men with chronic open-angle glaucoma, doctors from the University of Pennsylvania administered a 100-mg test dose to a group of men with the disease. The drug did not produce any change in eye pressure (or blood pressure) over a 5-hour period. In fact, the only side effect was one case of hiccups.

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