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Viagra and Blue Vision: Rare Vision Side Effects Explained

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Viagra, or its generic form Sildenafil, are popular erectile dysfunction drugs that work well for most men with minimal to no side effects from proper usage.

However, if you are not careful with your medication (or take it not under the guidance of a doctor), you may be in for some strange occurrences -- including a blue tinge to your vision for a while.

Below, we will go over the details of this bizarre side effect of Viagra including just what vision changes might occur, what is happening in the body to produce these visual anomalies, how long vision changes may last, just how common Viagra vision changes are, and how you can go about using your ED medications with minimal risk of seeing blue.

What are the potential vision changes that can occur with Viagra use?

The possible potential vision changes that can come along with Viagra use include light sensitivity, color perception changes, impaired visual acuity, depth perception deficiencies, contrast sensitivity, and abnormally dilated pupils. 

Why are temporary vision changes a possible side effect of Viagra?

While it may seem confusing how a medication that is meant to treat erectile dysfunction has anything to do with eyesight at all, there is actually a clear explanation.

The way that viagra functions is by selectively inhibiting the enzyme PDE-5 (phosphodiesterase 5). In short, PDE-5 inhibitors relax the blood vessels and increase blood flow to the penis by increasing the effects of nitric oxide (NO)

As it turns out, the eye also deals with phosphodiesterases, but mainly the PDE-6 enzyme. In the eye, PDE-6 is found in the rod and cones, and it has an inhibitory effect on these components of vision. While Viagra and similar medications mainly try to target PDE-5, a little bit of PDE-6 may also get inhibited in the process. For the rods and cones in your eye, if this naturally occurring inhibitory enzyme is blocked, they can become hypersensitive. And, since these rods and cones are great at picking up colors of green and blue, this hyperactivity can skew your vision to appear awash in shades of blue.

How long can vision changes last when taking Viagra and is it damaging to your eyes?

For most people who experience this rare side effect, the vision changes clear within a day or two, and may just be mild. And, even those who take Viagra in a reckless manner and get this side effect, eventually see their sight return to normal.

One study that looked at 17 cases of vision changes from taking (a very high dose) of Viagra reported that all 17 cases had their vision issues fully resolved at the end of 21 days.

Another study looking into Viagra and ophthalmology notes that there is not currently a consistent pattern that has emerged which suggests any long-term effects from Sildenafil (generic Viagra) on the retina or any other eye structures.

How common are vision changes when using Viagra?

Vision changes are not extremely common due to Viagra usage. However, the rates of vision changes from using Viagra are likely to increase when you are using higher dosages.

According to the package insert information for Viagra tablets, in clinical trials, abnormal vision occurred in 1% of users taking the 25mg dosage, 2% of users taking the 50mg dosage, and 11% of users taking the 100mg dosage.

The package insert notes that vision changes may include predominantly a color tinge change, but also blurred vision and increased sensitivity to light.

What are some things that may increase your risk of experiencing blue vision when taking Viagra?

There are some things that may increase your risk of vision disturbances when you are taking Viagra, its generic form Sildenafil, or other ED medications in the same class.

As suggested above from the Viagra package insert, the risks of having vision disturbances increases when using the higher dosages of Viagra. This is also noted in the study mentioned above with the 17 men. In that study, all 17 men had taken the highest 100mg Viagra dose and it was their first time using Viagra at all. For reference, the 50mg dose is normally the starting point for treatment, with your doctor assessing your response and adjusting from there.

Additionally, there may be a connection to being younger and having more visual disturbances from Viagra use. This study mentions that the men which has the most pronounced vision disturbances and light sensitivity were also the youngest of the group.

There may also be a metabolism component at play here, where some people take longer to metabolize Viagra than others, leading to reduced clearance of the drug which produces the visual side effects.

Finally, taking Viagra not as directed, or using medications that have not been received through a prescription and under the guidance of a doctor may increase your risk of unwanted side effects.

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