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Unseen Complications: Can Sleep Apnea Lead to Blindness?

February 16, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — sleepdunwoodyteam @ 2:45 pm
a person covering their eyes due to trouble sleeping

Did you know that there are millions of people throughout America who have issues with blindness or significantly impaired vision? These disabilities can be due to a number of reasons, including cataracts, accidental injuries, or simply genetics. However, one of the biggest culprits of vision impairment is diabetic retinopathy, which can be minimized with plenty of rest. But if you’re struggling with sleep apnea? Keep reading to learn how this sleeping disorder can contribute to blindness and what you can do about it.

The Link Between Sleep Apnea & Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a medical condition that happens whenever the blood vessels in the retina—the part of the eye that perceives light—become damaged. Over time, this can result in macular edema, or the buildup of fluid in the area, which can end up harming essential tissues and lead to vision impairment or even blindness. Retinopathy typically occurs in people who have uncontrolled diabetes, making it extremely important to treat their condition.

Research today has shown that there’s a significant correlation between sleep apnea, diabetic retinopathy, and macular edema. A recent study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology discovered that people with macular edema were more likely to suffer from this sleeping disorder than those without vision issues.

How Sleep Apnea Can Lead to Complications with Vision

Sleep apnea is a complication in a person’s resting period where they experience interruptions in their breathing. This can be due to an obstructive airway or a neural complication, and while it might not directly lead to vision impairment for those with diabetes, it can sometimes exacerbate the situation and raise the risk of macular edema and retinopathy. For instance, those with sleep apnea might struggle with higher blood pressure, which can harm the vessels in their eyes. This disorder can also make it much more difficult to manage diabetes, as they often won’t get enough rest.

What Can You Do?

If you’re struggling with getting enough rest or you suspect your low sleep quality is raising your chances of vision impairment, consider the following steps:

  • Ask your doctor for a referral to undergo an official sleep test.
  • If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, learn about your treatment solutions, such as oral appliance therapy.
  • Be consistent with your treatment options to continue minimizing your risks of complications with sleep and/or vision.
  • Work with your primary physician to help control your diabetes.

Sleep apnea can be incredibly problematic for both your vision and overall well-being. Keep the tips above in mind so that you can effectively protect your eyes and quality of life in the long run.

About the Author

Dr. Jeff Rodgers has been providing dental sleep services for well over two decades and remains just as passionate as the day he started. As a board-certified expert, he’s a member of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and provides a wide range of treatment options to alleviate complications, including oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea. If you’re noticing issues with rest, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office by visiting our website or calling us at 404-252-1221.

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