Sexual Health Q&A

Erectile Dysfunction
Is there a link between erectile dysfunction (ED) and glaucoma?

According to research published in 2016, there might be a connection between glaucoma and erectile dysfunction (ED). But experts caution that more study is necessary.

Glaucoma is an eye disease. Usually, it occurs when excessive amounts of fluid accumulate in the front of the eye. The pressure from this fluid damages the optic nerve, which links the retina and the brain. When a person sees an image, the retina “processes” that image and sends a message through the optic nerve so that the brain can “interpret” it. If the optic nerve is damaged, this transmission becomes impaired.

For the study, a team of Canadian scientists collected data from 128 male patients of an ophthalmology clinic. Sixty-one men had glaucoma and the rest did not. The men answered questions about their erections and their general health.

Both groups of men had similar rates of medical conditions that can affect erections, like diabetes, a history of smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These conditions did not appear to influence the link between glaucoma and ED.

The researchers found that men with glaucoma were over two and a half times more likely to have ED than the men without glaucoma. They also discovered that men with more severe cases of glaucoma tended to have more severe cases of ED.

It was unclear why ED was more common in the men with glaucoma. The researchers suggested that the link might be due to blood vessel inflammation, but more research is needed in this area.

Men who are concerned about glaucoma or ED should always see their doctor to discuss treatment.

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