Sleep Apnea Affects More Than Your Mood

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes many people to stop breathing while sleeping, often multiple times per night. Those who suffer from this condition generally have ocular irritation, risk of floppy eyelids, dry tear ducts, and an increased risk of developing glaucoma.

There are different types of sleep apnea, the most common being Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which causes the airways to be partially blocked because of relaxed muscles in the nose and throat. Apnea (the absence of breathing) or hypopnea (slow, shallow breathing) is twice as common in men. It also generally affects people with obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and/or heart disease.

When the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much to allow regular breathing, sleep apnea occurs, causing lower-quality sleep. The body’s oxygen supply is also greatly affected, which can typically lead to serious health conditions. Contrary to the popular misconception, not all those who snore suffer from sleep apnea.

Interrupted sleep can cause a variety of issues such as fatigue, daytime tiredness, irritability, depression, headaches, difficulty concentrating, distractedness, or sore throats.

When it comes to the eyes, sleep apnea can cause several major issues:

  • Glaucoma: increased pressure within the eye can damage the optic nerve, leading to vision loss or blindness.
  • Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES): marked by an unusually large and floppy upper eyelid, FES can cause eye redness, irritation, discharge, and blurry vision.
  • Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (NAION): symptoms occur when there is significant vision loss in one or both eyes without any pain, caused by a loss of blood flow to the optic nerve.
  • Retinal Vein Occlusion (RVO): also called an eye stroke, it is categorized by a blockage within the small veins that carry blood away from the retina.

Other eye conditions correlated to sleep apnea include papilledema, keratoconus, and central serous chorioretinopathy.

Getting regular eye exams can prevent vision issues; contact our office to schedule an appointment.

Zen Eye Institute offers the most advanced technology available to provide personalized and extraordinary care to our patients. Whether your goal is to maintain or improve your natural vision, we are here to help you.