A recent study conducted in British Columbia (Canada) lends further weight to the theory that glaucoma and male erectile dysfunction (ED) are linked. Nathoo et al compared 1380 patients with ED to 13800 patients without. Cases with ED were more likely to have coronary artery disease, chronic airways disease and diabetes. Those with ED were 37% more likely to have glaucoma.
The association with cardiovascular disease strongly suggests ED is in part due to poor blood supply. One common link between cardiovascular disease and glaucoma is the use of a class of medications called beta-blockers. These are taken orally for some cardiovascular conditions and are sometimes used as an eye drop to reduce eye pressure. Concern has been raised in the past that it is the use of beta-blockers that increases the risk of ED in patients with glaucoma, however the study by Nathoo appears to refute this. They found no difference in the rate of beta-blocker use in those with or without ED, suggesting other factors may be important. Further research will help increase our understanding of the underlying mechanisms linking glaucoma and ED.
Nathoo et al. J Glaucoma 2015: 24; 135 – 7