What do sleep apnea and your risk of developing glaucoma have in common? Sleep apnea appears to be a risk factor for developing glaucoma according to current research. Here is what you need to know. Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that blocks breathing during sleep for more than 100 million people worldwide. In obstructive sleep apnea, the airway becomes blocked, causing breathing to stop for up to two minutes. Symptoms include loud snoring and persistent daytime sleepiness. Glaucoma affects nearly 60 million worldwide. If untreated, glaucoma reduces peripheral vision and eventually may cause blindness by damaging the optic nerve. Only half of the people who have glaucoma are aware of it because the disease is painless and vision loss is typically gradual.
Researchers, reporting in the journal Ophthalmology, the official publication of the American Academy of Ophthalmology found that obstructive sleep apnea is not simply a marker for poor health, but is actually an independent risk factor for open-angle glaucoma. The relationship between the two conditions is significant, given the large numbers of people worldwide who suffer from them. Based on this finding, we want to alert obstructive sleep apnea patients of the associations between obstructive sleep apnea and open-angle glaucoma to raise the issue and encouraging treatment of those who need it.