Viagra could be a new miraculous cure for BLINDNESS, scientists say

Tests show that the anti-impotence medication can stop age-related macular degeneration. This follows a two-year trial led by scientists at Columbia University in New York. (Stock photo)

Tests show that the anti-impotence medication can stop age-related macular degeneration. This follows a two-year trial led by scientists at Columbia University in New York. (Stock photo)

Tests show that the anti-impotence medication can stop age-related macular degeneration. This follows a two-year trial led by scientists at Columbia University in New York. (Stock photo)

It seems hard to believe, but Viagra could restore sight to the blind.

The evidence shows that the anti-impotence drug can prevent further vision loss for patients who have had their vision stolen, and could even repair the damage that has already been done.

A two-year trial led by scientists at Columbia University in New York suggests that blue pills could stop age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, in its tracks.

The condition is the leading cause of blindness in the United Kingdom, with about 600,000 Britons already suffering a loss of vision as a result.

About 90% of cases involve dry AMD, a form of the disease that appears slowly over several years. The rest implies wet AMD, which can cause blindness in just three months.

Dry AMD usually develops after age 50 and is caused by the growth of new blood vessels on the macula, a small, oval-shaped area in the back of the eye that helps us to clearly choose the visual details.

These blood vessels lose fluid, causing the formation of scar tissue and destroying vision in the center of the eye, making it difficult to recognize faces, read or watch television.

Recent research has found that the condition is caused in part by reduced blood flow to the choroid, a vital layer of tissue that lies in front of the retina, and some previous studies had suggested that Viagra may improve blood flow to this tissue.

Recent research found that the condition is caused in part by reduced blood flow to the choroid, a vital layer of tissue that lies in front of the retina. Studies have suggested that Viagra can improve blood flow to this tissue. (Stock photo)

Recent research found that the condition is caused in part by reduced blood flow to the choroid, a vital layer of tissue that lies in front of the retina. Studies have suggested that Viagra can improve blood flow to this tissue. (Stock photo)

Recent research found that the condition is caused in part by reduced blood flow to the choroid, a vital layer of tissue that lies in front of the retina. Studies have suggested that Viagra can improve blood flow to this tissue. (Stock photo)

In the Columbia study, five elderly patients with AMD were given two Viagra pills a day for two years.

The results, published in the journal Ophthalmologica, showed that the drug improved a participant's vision and completely stopped the deterioration of others.

Some drugs can already slow the progression of AMD and increase vision in some cases, but drugs should be injected into the back of the eye every month.

The researchers said: "Viagra offers significant potential for vision retention and recovery It is notable that patients remained visually stable and there was a significant improvement in vision in a participant.

Professor Sobha Sivaprasad of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists said the Viagra findings were encouraging, although the study was small.

"Now we need larger studies to replicate these findings before Viagra can be used as a treatment," he said.

Previous studies have suggested that Viagra could help treat a range of ailments, from heart attacks and lung diseases to dementia.

The drug was available without a prescription in Britain for the first time in March.

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