Is Sleep Apnea Linked to Blindness?
May 2, 2022
Every night, millions of Americans miss out on countless hours of sleep because of sleep apnea; and many more cases go undiagnosed! But sleep apnea doesn’t just disturb you while you’re trying to rest—it can also lead to a variety of different health problems if left untreated. Among these are vision problems; in fact, new research has revealed a connection between sleep apnea and diabetes-related eye problems. Keep reading to learn more about this connection and what you can do to manage your conditions and get back to bed.
Exploring The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Vision Problems
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of the most common forms of sleep apnea; an obstruction, usually mouth or throat tissue, causes blockage in the airway, causing your body to exit sleep in order to normalize your breathing cycle. You might be wondering: “What does this have to do with my eyesight?”
This is a valid concern, but new research from Taiwan’s Chang Gung Memorial Hospital indicates that there is a link between sleep apnea and a condition called diabetic retinopathy. This condition is characterized by damage to blood vessels in the eyes; if left untreated, it can develop into something called macular edema. When this happens, fluid builds up in the retinas that can seriously damage your eyes and cause vision loss. Even though this condition can afflict anybody, it is more common in patients with diabetes.
Though the link between sleep apnea and vision problems might seem a little indirect, sleep apnea is a definite catalyst that can trigger the chain of events that eventually causes vision problems and blindness—especially in diabetic patients. Another example of this connection is evident when looking at the physical toll that lack of sleep takes on your body: memory loss, fatigue, and stress can all stem from not getting enough sleep. These symptoms can increase your blood pressure which, in turn, can lead to damaged blood vessels in your eyes!
What You Can Do
If you’re concerned about how sleep apnea might be affecting your sleep and potentially your eyesight, the best thing you can do is seek treatment. Although you must be diagnosed with sleep apnea by a sleep doctor prior to receiving treatment from your dentist, possible solutions include CPAP machines and oral appliances. Follow your dentist’s instructions closely—sleep apnea will not simply go away on its own!
If you’re diabetic, managing your condition can help keep other problems at bay. Regular exercise, a well-balanced diet, and other smart lifestyle choices can all contribute towards a healthy weight and managing your diabetes. Taking care of yourself can reduce your risk of sleep apnea, diabetic retinopathy, and other vision-related problems.
Sleep apnea won’t just steal your sleep; it’ll steal your eyesight if you let things get out of hand! But by seeking treatment and managing certain health conditions, you can ensure that you’re getting enough sleep while reducing your risk of vision problems.
About the Author
Cranbrook Dental Care is proud to serve patients and families in the Bloomfield Hills community under the leadership of Dr. David G. Banda and his elite team. Dr. Banda completed his DDS at the University of Michigan and holds membership in many professional organizations including the American Dental Association, the Michigan Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry and more. His practice offers a wide range of services including sleep apnea therapy! If you’d like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Banda, you can contact him online or by phone: (248) 647-5434.
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