As if the current list of risks associated with sleep apnea were not enough–heart attack, stroke, mood disorders, violence, workplace and car accidents–researchers have added the vision-threatening condition glaucoma to it.
The research was backed by a large study, and the connection between them makes sense, so it’s likely that this connection will turn out to be a true one.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition where the nerves that carry visual information from your eyes to your brain are damaged, resulting in vision loss and eventual blindness. Glaucoma is a very dangerous condition to your vision, because the vision loss begins in the center of your visual field, with your highly detailed and color vision, then progresses outward. Visual loss as a result of glaucoma cannot be restored.
The most common cause of glaucoma is increased pressure in the eye, which puts pressure on the nerves, causing damage.
Research Links Glaucoma to Sleep Apnea
According to research published earlier this year, people with obstructive sleep apnea are much more likely to suffer glaucoma. The study, conducted by researchers at Taipei University, Taiwan, looked at the health records of more than 1000 sleep apnea sufferers and compared them with the records of more than 6000 non-sufferers.
Researchers set relatively strict criteria for both sleep apnea and glaucoma. People were only counted as having glaucoma if they were prescribed medication for the condition, and they were only considered as having sleep apnea if they had undergone a sleep test for diagnosis.
The results showed that people with obstructive sleep apnea were 1.67 times more likely to develop glaucoma.
Is Blood Pressure the Link?
Researchers did not posit an explanation for how sleep apnea might contribute to glaucoma, but we may speculate. One common risk factor for glaucoma is hypertension, elevated blood pressure. Sleep apnea sufferers in this study were more likely to have hypertension as well.
Protect Your Vision
The study didn’t focus on how sleep apnea treatment might affect your risk, but most of the dangers of sleep apnea disappear with treatment. It’s likely this will, too. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s important that you get treatment to avoid irreversible damage to your health and vision.
For help with sleep apnea treatment in Denver, please call (303) 691-0267 at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado for an appointment.