A relatively common sleep condition appears to be linked to the world’s second-leading cause of blindness, according to a recent study published in the August 2013 issue of the journal Ophthalmology.
People with sleep apnea, a disorder that causes disrupted breathing during sleep, were found to be almost twice as likely to develop glaucoma versus those without the condition. The study was conducted between 2001 and 2004 on 1,000 patients with sleep apnea.
Glaucoma is a condition affecting the optic nerve of the eye. It gradually affects peripheral vision and can lead to blindness if untreated. It must be diagnosed early, since it usually causes no pain and most people are unable to detect the peripheral vision loss until the later stages of the disease.
Risk factors for sleep apnea include being overweight, male, over 50 years of age, having high blood pressure, and fatigue during the daytime. Family members or bed partners often pick up on the signs of sleep apnea first by reporting snoring or episodes of gasping for breath while their partner is asleep.
We routinely test for glaucoma during all eye exams at Mountain View Optometry. If you (or a family member) have sleep apnea please arrange an appointment to see us, and please tell us if you have the condition so we can ensure all your tests are up to date.
– Dr. Wilk
Source: Ophthalmology, news release, Aug. 7, 2013