On call: Viagra and vision

On call

Viagra and vision

Q. My wife and I have recently been reassured that Viagra is safe for my heart. But a new worry has emerged: Is it safe for my eyes?

A. Because Viagra (sildenafil) is so familiar to nearly all Americans, it's easy to forget that it is a relatively new drug. Viagra was approved by the FDA in March 1998, and the other erectile dysfunction (ED) pills are even newer; Levitra (vardenafil) was approved in August 2003 and Cialis (tadalafil) in November 2003.

It can take time for adverse reactions to gain recognition, particularly if they are uncommon, and it is important for doctors, patients, drug companies, and regulatory agencies to remain vigilant. But millions of men have used ED pills, which have received attention and scrutiny afforded few drugs. A large body of evidence tells us that the ED pills are safe for the heart except for men taking nitrate medications in any form and for those with serious, unstable cardiovascular disease or uncontrolled hypertension. Alpha blockers also call for caution, especially in men considering Levitra or Cialis.

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