Effect of sildenafil citrate on intraocular pressure and blood pressure in human volunteers

Rosana Gerometta, Lawrence J. Alvarez, Oscar A. Candia

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24 Scopus citations


Anecdotal reports have suggested that the vasodilator, sildenafil citrate, which evokes its effect via a select inhibition of PDE5, has the potential to increase intraocular pressure (IOP) in some individuals. An ocular hypertensive effect by sildenafil was also recently described in a sheep animal model. In contrast, clinical studies have not found a direct association between sildenafil ingestion (commonly consumed as Viagra) and changes in IOP. However, some such studies also reported no effects of sildenafil on systemic blood pressure (BP) at the time of the IOP determination. Given this surprising result, our purpose was to repeat a study in human volunteers in the city of Corrientes, Argentina to corroborate the effects of sildenafil on human IOP and systemic BP. For the present study, 9 healthy volunteers (male and female, 18-74 years old) were selected as subjects after ophthalmic and cardiovascular evaluation indicated that they exhibited normal parameters for their age. In a masked, placebo-controlled study, the subjects ingested 100 mg sildenafil citrate (provided as Vorst from Laboratorios Bernabo, Argentina) in one session, and a placebo on a second separate occasion. IOP was measured with a Goldman applanation tonometer by an ophthalmologist, and BP by a second physician, neither of whom witnessed the tablet ingestion by the volunteers, nor provided with information on the nature of the test compounds. A third individual administered the tablets. The average baseline IOP of this group of 9 was 13.1 ± 0.6 mm Hg. Subsequent to sildenafil ingestion, IOP increased by 26% to 16.5 ± 0.8 mm Hg 60 min later (P < 0.005, as paired data), and returned to control values within 2 h. Both systolic and diastolic BP were significantly reduced by sildenafil ingestion. At the point of maximal systemic hypotension (90 min), the systolic and diastolic pressures declined by 15% and 13%, respectively. No significant changes in IOP or BP were recorded after ingestion of the placebo. Our results suggest that sildenafil can elicit a transient IOP increase that may be of importance to patients chronically treated with PDE5 inhibitors for various vascular diseases (e.g., pulmonary hypertension). We discuss possible mechanisms by which PDE5 inhibition might lead to a rise in IOP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-107
Number of pages5
JournalExperimental Eye Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Aqueous humor dynamics
  • Diastolic pressure
  • Intraocular pressure
  • PDE5 inhibition
  • Systolic pressure
  • Viagra


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