Men with glaucoma are over two and a half times more likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED) compared to men without glaucoma, according to a new study by Canadian scientists.
The severity of the two conditions appeared to be linked as well: Men with severe cases of glaucoma tended to have severe ED.
Glaucoma is an eye disease caused by damage to the optic nerve, which provides a connection between the retina and the brain. Through the optic nerve, the brain can process the image “seen” by the retina.
The study focused on 128 men over age 40 who were patients at an ophthalmology clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia. Sixty-one men had glaucoma and the remaining 67 patients served as a control group.
The men completed the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) and had their vision evaluated. They also answered questions about their general health and smoking status.
The researchers found that 40% of the men with glaucoma also had ED. The severity of the two conditions were “significantly correlated,” the authors wrote.
Overall, men with glaucoma were 2.58 times more likely to have ED.
Factors that can contribute to ED – such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a history of smoking – were present in both groups of men and did not seem to affect the link between glaucoma and ED.
The researchers were not certain why the association occurred. It’s possible, they noted, that blood vessel inflammation might play a role. Such inflammation could interfere with eye health and impair blood flow to the penis, which is needed for a firm erection.
More research is needed to confirm the association.
The study was published in September 2016 in the Journal of Glaucoma.
American Academy of Ophthalmology
“Causes of Glaucoma”
(December 29, 2015)
“What Is Glaucoma?”
(January 10, 2015)
Journal of Glaucoma
Law, Geoffrey BScH, et al.
“Correlation in Severity Between Glaucoma and Erectile Dysfunction”
(Abstract. September 2016)
“Glaucoma and impotence unexpectedly linked in new study from UBC”
(August 29, 2016)