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Sleep Apnea

How Sleep Apnea Affects The Eyes

Did you know that some eye conditions are associated with sleep apnea? According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, and Health Canada reports similar prevalence. It’s a sleep disorder where people stop breathing — often multiple times per night — while sleeping.

If you have sleep apnea: it tends to take longer for your tears to be replenished, you’re more likely to have ocular irritation, you have a higher chance of developing floppy eyelids, and you’re at increased risk for glaucoma.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

There are different types of sleep apnea. The most common one is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During OSA, your airway becomes partially blocked due to relaxed muscles in your nose and throat. This causes apnea (the absence of breathing) or hypopnea (abnormally shallow, slow breathing). It’s twice as common in men, and is more likely to affect people with obesity, hypertension, diabetes or heart disease.

What are the common symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much to allow normal breathing. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s oxygen supply, which can lead to potentially serious health consequences.

While snoring is a common symptom, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Interrupted sleep can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability or depression, headaches in the morning, difficulty concentrating and thinking, and a sore throat.

Which Eye Conditions Are Associated With Sleep Apnea?

Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when increased pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, leading to vision loss and sometimes blindness. In some cases, it might be due to a drop in blood oxygen levels, which happens when you stop breathing. However, CPAP machines, one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea, can also cause glaucoma.

So, people with sleep apnea — even if it’s being treated — need to get their eyes checked on a regular basis for glaucoma.

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES) is an eye condition where a person has an unusually large and floppy upper eyelid. It can cause eye redness, irritation, discharge, or blurry vision — and over 90% of people with FES also have sleep apnea.

Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) is an eye condition that occurs when there is a loss of blood flow to the optic nerve. Patients typically complain of significant vision loss in one eye without any major pain. Approximately 70-80% of patients with NAION have been found to have OSA.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Also referred to as an ‘eye stroke,’ retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina. A recent study of 114 RVO patients found that sleep apnea was suspected in 74% of the patients that had previously been diagnosed with RVO.

Other Eye Health Issues Associated With Sleep Apnea

Some other ocular conditions that are more common in patients with sleep apnea include: papilledema, keratoconus, and central serous chorioretinopathy. Furthermore, in addition to glaucoma mentioned above, CPAP machines are associated with dry eye syndrome and bacterial conjunctivitis.

Talk To Your Doc

Get eye exams regularly to rule out eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss, especially if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. At Cove Eyecare in Copperas Cove we encourage you to share your medical history with us so we can better diagnose and treat any eye conditions or ocular diseases you may have, and help you keep your eyes nice and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. M. D. Young, OD

Q: What Causes Sleep Apnea?

  • A: Sleep apnea occurs when in-part or completely stop breathing when sleeping. This causes your lungs to strain harder for oxygen, and makes the brain send signals that jerk your body awake to resume proper breathing.

Q: What are the Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea?

  • A: A common sign of sleep apnea is loud snoring. Snoring that is loud enough to disturb the sleep of the patient as well as others around, even across the walls. That said, not everyone who snores suffers from obstructive sleep apnea.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Copperas Cove, Texas. Visit Cove Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

Sleep Apnea, Dry Eyes, and Glaucoma – What’s the Connection?

Over 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that involves an involuntary stopping of breathing while sleeping.

Those with sleep apnea are more likely to have ocular irritation, abnormal tear break-up time, and an increased upper and lower lid laxity, in addition to being a higher risk of developing glaucoma.

How Are Sleep Apnea and Dry Eye Connected?

One of the most common treatment options for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. These machines supply constant and steady air pressure. Many patients who use the machine experience air leaks, causing a constant airflow over the eyes that results in eye irritation, occasional swelling, and dryness. Dry eyes can cause discomfort and can cause serious eye problems. If not addressed the side effects of the CPAP machines can become chronic.

If you are experiencing dry eye due to your CPAP mask, contact your eye doctor. Your eye doctor will most likely suggest using a thicker, non-preserved artificial tear drops or ointment which you apply before bed. It is important for the drops or ointment to be thick and more viscous so that it stays in the eye, protecting it all night. The artificial tear needs to be preservative-free since it will be used every night. This treatment is a simple solution to your dry eye.

How Are Sleep Apnea and Glaucoma Connected?

People with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), are approximately ten times more likely to develop glaucoma. What is the underlying cause of the connection is unknown.

It is believed that the connection between sleep apnea and glaucoma is due to the drop in oxygen levels in the blood, which happens when you stop breathing. Low oxygen concentration in the blood may contribute to the degradation of the optic nerve, potentially leading to glaucoma.

If you have sleep apnea it is important to go to your eye doctor for regular eye exams. During a routine eye exam, your eye doctor will check the pressure in your eye determining if it is where it should be. If not, you may have glaucoma. Early detection is key, as glaucoma causes irreversible vision loss and possible blindness.

Although ocular irritation may occur, it is advised to continue using the CPAP machine, as it can prevent sometimes life-threatening impacts of sleep apnea. If it appears that eye problems and dryness are developing as a result of CPAP use, visit your eye doctor for guidance on how to help prevent this irritation or eye conditions such as glaucoma.

https://www.glaucoma.org/news/blog/how-sleep-apnea-may-contribute-to-normal-tension-glaucoma-risk.php#:~:text=How%20Sleep%20Apnea%20May%20Contribute%20to%20Normal%2DTension%20Glaucoma%20Risk,-Posted%20on%20June&text=People%20with%20obstructive%20sleep%20apnea,more%20likely%20to%20develop%20glaucoma.

At Cove Eyecare, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 254-549-1142 or book an appointment online to see one of our Copperas Cove eye doctors.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. M. D. Young, OD

Q: Can you request lenses made from glass? Is glass still used for lenses?

  • A: Yes. Opticians still sometimes use glass for lenses. However, glass is not used very often because they aren’t as safe. If these glass lenses breaks, they can shatters into many pieces and can injure the eye. Glass lenses are much heavier than plastic lenses, so they can make your eyeglasses less comfortable to wear.

Q: Can a coating be added to eyeglasses to protect them from further scratches?

  • A: A protective coating can’t be added to a lens after it’s scratched. The coating is applied when the lens is manufactured and can’t be put on later.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Copperas Cove, Texas. Visit Cove Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

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