Anterior ischemic optic neuropathy and stroke with use of PDE-5 inhibitors for erectile dysfunction: Cause or coincidence?

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30 Scopus citations


The PDE-5 inhibitors sildenafil (Viagra) vardenafil (Levitra) and tadalafil (Cialis) have been taken by millions of men for erectile dysfunction. Transient visual symptoms are common but there also have been fourteen cases of nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) described in patients using these drugs as well as a few other vascular events. NAION is a common optic neuropathy in patients in the age group using these drugs and the question arises whether or not PDE-5 inhibitors are causing NAION. One case of NAION occurred after transient visual symptoms occurred with repeated use and one patient experienced a transient ischemic attack after taking a dose followed by a stroke on using the drug again later. Other than these two cases with strong dechallenge-rechallenge data, the evidence to support PDE-5 inhibitors as a cause of NAION or any vascular event is weak. PDE-5 inhibitors probably are a rare cause of a common ischemic disorder of the optic disc. They should be avoided in men who have already experienced NAION in one eye. Patients should be warned to seek medical attention if they have visual field or acuity loss after using PDE-5 inhibitors. Otherwise there is little basis for modifying the current guidelines for the use of these drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-97
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 15 2007


  • DE-5 inhibitors
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Ischemic optic neuropathy
  • Pharmacology
  • Sildenafil (Viagra)
  • Stroke
  • Tadalafil (Cialis)
  • Transient ischemic attack
  • Vardenafil (Levitra)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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