Hundreds of studies have positively confirmed that sleep apnea is connected to all sorts of health problems. Scientists know that the condition negatively impacts cardiovascular health by increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation. Sleep apnea has also been linked to obesity, insomnia and irregular hormone levels; and now, a recent study points to a possible link to normal tension glaucoma.
Normal tension glaucoma is unlike traditional glaucoma, which typically occurs when pressure causes damage to the optic nerve. With normal tension glaucoma, damage occurs without excessive pressure, meaning the cause has to be some other condition or problem within the body.
To learn more about the possible connection, a study was conducted on 247 patients, all of which suffered from common symptoms of sleep apnea. Every patient was subject to a sleep study using PSG technology; and 209 of the 247 were found to have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Aside from the sleep study, subjects also received common eye exams, including a funduscopy, gonioscopy, IOP, corrected visual acuity, central corneal thickness, retinal nerve fiber layer status, and automated visual field testing.
A Possible Link between Eyesight and Poor Sleep
According to the study, the prevalence of normal-tension glaucoma was much higher with those suffering from sleep apnea than those who did not. The study also found that patients suffering from moderate and severe OSA were at the highest risk of suffering from normal tension glaucoma when compared to patients diagnosed with mild OSA.
While the study does not confirm that sleep apnea causes normal tension glaucoma, it does suggest that the sleep disorder may somehow increase a patient’s risk of suffering from optical damage. Glaucoma can lead to partial, as well as full vision loss, which means that early diagnosis and quick treatment is vital.
Patients who have been diagnosed with OSA most definitely require treatment to not only treat sleep apnea symptoms, but also to decrease the likelihood of suffering from the possible health conditions linked to poor sleep. If you’re interested in learning about sleep apnea treatment, most notably oral appliance therapy, call or email Dr. Serra’s office today to get started.