A recent study has found that one sleep condition has the potential to cause blindness. The study used the medical records of 1,000 patients that were aged 40 and older, and found that they were at higher risk for developing open angle glaucoma, and should be tested for the disease of the eyes.
The study compared the sleep apnea patients to a control group of over 6,000 people that did not have sleep apnea and found that those with this sleep condition were 1.67 times as likely to develop glaucoma within five years of being diagnosed with sleep apnea. Open angle glaucoma is the most common kind of the disease, but it requires treatment as it is the second most common cause of blindness around the world.
The results of the study were published in August’s issue of Ophthalmology, and it found that glaucoma is much more commonly found in those that have sleep apnea. This sleep condition is an independent risk factor for developing the disease.
According to Herng-Ching Lin, with the College of Medical Science and Technology at Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University, researchers hoped to encourage health care professionals to alert patients with obstructive sleep apnea of the potential link between this sleep condition and glaucoma as a way to encourage testing and treatment for those that need it.
It’s also crucial to note that sleep apnea does not cause glaucoma, but it is connected enough to make people want to keep tabs on their eye health. According to Dr. Andrew Iwach, M.D. glaucoma specialist in San Francisco, when people don’t breathe normally, the lack of oxygen can cause damage to the optic nerves, or can cause abnormal gasses to build up in the blood, and both of these situations can lead to glaucoma.
Sleep apnea is characterized by a disruption in the breathing pattern during sleep. It affects over 100 million people around the world and almost 60 million people worldwide have glaucoma. When left untreated, glaucoma can reduce peripheral vision, and over time, can cause blindness due to damage to the optic nerve. Only half of those that have this eye condition know it because it doesn’t hurt and loss of vision is usually slow.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that everyone get a baseline eye exam done by the time they are 40, which is about the time that signs of vision changes and the disease often begin to occur. However, if you have the condition in your family, or you tend to wear extremely thick glasses, you may want to consider getting tested sooner. The sooner glaucoma is caught, the better the chances of preventing damage to the vision.