Viagra makes a man’s eyes sensitive to light

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DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Will you please address the issue of Viagra causing blindness? How risky is it to use Viagra? Should a man (a friend) take it if he has very little vision in one eye? I am very concerned. – T.Y.

ANSWER: When the announcement was made about Viagra causing vision loss, many men were very concerned. However, there has not been much in the news about this since then.

Viagra and the two closely related drugs Cialis and Levitra can have a user seeing blue for a short time. And they can make a man’s eyes sensitive to light. That is a temporary condition. But about 50 male Viagra users have had sudden, painless vision loss, usually in one eye. That can be permanent. The condition is called NAION, nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy. Many of the men who experienced this had high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease or were smokers. It hasn’t been proved that Viagra is responsible for the loss of vision. It could be that those other conditions contributed to it. However, the Food and Drug Administration requires that the possibility of permanent vision impairment be listed on the information literature of all three drugs.

Viagra first appeared on the market in 1998. Millions have used it. Only a small handful of users have suffered this possible side effect.

The man you speak of has good vision in only one eye. That man should speak with his eye doctor about using Viagra. Sometimes the doctor, with a hand-held scope, can see changes at the back of the eye that predispose a person to vision loss. Your friend should find out if he has those changes in his good eye.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My wife had cellulitis on her leg three years ago. It has returned. Nobody can tell us what causes it. I’ve been told to wrap her legs for the rest of her life. Is there a cure or a cause for this? Someone suggested it could be caused by a pet dog. – E.B.

ANSWER: Cellulitis is a spreading infection of the skin and the tissues directly beneath the skin. Sometimes the spread is alarmingly rapid. The cause is the staph or strep germ. A cut, a boil, a small pimple, an insect bite or athlete’s foot can be the doorway through which the germ enters the skin. The wound can be so small that the person cannot see it – after all, these germs are microscopic in size.

Don’t blame the family pet. Animals are rarely responsible. Staph and strep germs are all over the place, and they land on people’s skin all the time.

The infection features red, hot, swollen, tender skin. The infected person might feel quite sick and often has a fever or chills.

Your wife needs leg compression, usually with elastic-type stockings, if her legs are swollen with fluid. The fluid favors rapid spread of infection. She also needs to keep her legs elevated as much as possible if they have any fluid in them. That helps drain the fluid out.

She should also pay meticulous attention to the skin of her legs and feet. Any cuts or scratches should be attended to immediately.

If she has repeated bouts of cellulitis, then a low dose of antibiotic, taken daily for a prolonged period, can help her stay free of cellulitis. Twice in three years, however, doesn’t qualify as repeated bouts.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My nose runs every time I eat. It is embarrassing. Please help. – V.K.

ANSWER: Many noses behave like yours. It may be the odor or the spiciness of food that turns the nasal faucet on. Or it might be just an errant reflex that some people happen to have.

Either of these nasal sprays might help: Atrovent or Astelin. Both require a prescription. Antihistamines – many of which are available without a prescription – can be taken about an hour before eating, and they can keep the nose dry. They might also sedate you, however.

Neither treatment should be used on a regular basis. Save treatment for the occasions that embarrass you.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com

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