According to optometry professor Brad Sutton, practically 100% of floppy eyelid syndrome patients have sleep apnea. He also added that optometrists need to do their part to help identify people with the condition.

Sleep Apnea Strongly Associated with Eye Conditions

According to Dr. Sutton, sleep apnea is strongly associated with many eye conditions, but perhaps most strongly with floppy eyelid syndrome. In floppy eyelid syndrome, the eyelid becomes very easy to evert (turn upward or even inside-out).

The exact cause of the connection isn’t known. However, it is known that if sleep apnea is treated, floppy eyelid syndrome tends to improve. In addition to floppy eyelid syndrome, sleep apnea is associated with many vision conditions, including:

  • Keratoconus
  • Papilledema
  • Glaucoma
  • Non-arteritic ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION)

Some of which are vision-threatening. Glaucoma is often described as the “silent thief of sight” because it shows no symptoms until vision loss begins. It is associated with high blood pressure, a common effect of sleep apnea. NAION is like a stroke in your eye. The risk of strokes is also increased by sleep apnea.
Dr. Sutton encouraged optometrists to be on the lookout for sleep apnea in their patients, “when you have your medical intake forms, review of systems, sleep apnea needs to be on that form.”

Looking Out for Floppy Eyelid Syndrome

People with floppy eyelid syndrome often report that they wake up with very dry, sore eyes. These will tend to improve over the course of the day. They may have redness and excess mucous discharge from their eyes in the morning.

For many people, the treatment can be as simple as using tape or nasal breathing strips on the eyelids. Other helpful strategies include using a cylindrical pillow to minimize eye contact, and using a thicker moisturizing ointment for the eyes.

For people who have been diagnosed with floppy eyelid syndrome, it’s crucial to seek out a sleep apnea evaluation and get appropriate treatment. Call (303) 691-0267 to find out how sleep apnea treatment can help.