Sleep apnea is a kind of lynchpin condition that is linked to numerous other health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, and more. Now it seems that sleep apnea sufferers are also at an increased risk for glaucoma as well.

A large new study by researchers in Taiwan suggests a significant increased risk for glaucoma among sleep apnea sufferers.

Understanding Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when the nerves that carry visual information from your eyes to your brain are damaged. This damage causes vision loss and eventually blindness.

Glaucoma is often described as the silent thief of sight because there are usually no symptoms until you suffer vision loss, and once you do suffer vision loss, it’s typically in the center of your visual field, and affects your detail and color vision. Worst of all, there’s no way to restore vision lost from glaucoma.

Glaucoma is usually associated with elevated eye pressure, which results in nerve damage..

Research Links Glaucoma to Sleep Apnea

According to research published earlier this year, people with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to develop glaucoma. The study used health records of more than 1000 sleep apnea sufferers, compared them with the age-matched records of more than 6000 non-sufferers. The results showed that people with obstructive sleep apnea were 1.67 times more likely to develop glaucoma.

Researchers set rigorous criteria for both sleep apnea and glaucoma, which many say enhances the significance of its findings. To be included in the sleep apnea group, people must have undergone a sleep test for diagnosis. To be counted in the glaucoma group, people must have been prescribed medication for glaucoma treatment.

Limits of the Study

One of the main criticisms leveled at the study is that because of the rigorous definitions of both sleep apnea and glaucoma, it’s possible that there were undiagnosed sufferers of both conditions in the study population. For sleep apnea, this is especially likely, since perhaps 90% of sleep apnea sufferers are undiagnosed.

If there were a significant amount of undiagnosed sleep apnea sufferers in the control group, the actual risk of glaucoma could be much higher than the study showed.

The study also only looked at one type of glaucoma, when there are many types of the condition.

Protect Your Vision

This study didn’t extend to how sleep apnea treatment affected risk. However, sleep apnea treatment tends to be very effective at reducing or eliminating other sleep apnea risks, when used properly.

If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea and are looking for a comfortable treatment that is easy to use and can reduce your health risks, please contact the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha, Nebraska.