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Home » The Las Vegas Eye Care Blog » Sleep Apnea, Dry Eyes, and Glaucoma – What’s the Connection?

Sleep Apnea, Dry Eyes, and Glaucoma – What’s the Connection?

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More than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that involves an involuntary cessation of breathing while sleeping.

Those with sleep apnea are more likely to have ocular irritation, abnormal tear break-up time, and an increased upper and lower lid laxity, in addition to being at higher risk of developing glaucoma.

How Are Sleep Apnea and Dry Eye Connected?

One of the most common treatment options for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. These machines supply constant and steady air pressure. Many patients who use the machine experience air leaks, causing a constant airflow over the eyes that results in eye irritation, occasional swelling, and dryness. Dry eyes can cause discomfort and can cause serious eye problems. If not addressed the side effects of the CPAP machines can become chronic.

If you are experiencing dry eye due to your CPAP mask, contact your eye doctor. Your eye doctor will most likely suggest using thicker, non-preserved artificial tear drops or ointment, which you apply before bed. It is important for the drops or ointment to be thick and more viscous so that it stays in the eye, protecting it all night. The artificial tear needs to be preservative-free since it will be used every night. This treatment is a simple solution to your dry eye.

How Are Sleep Apnea and Glaucoma Connected?

People with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), are approximately 10 times more likely to develop glaucoma.

It is believed that the connection between sleep apnea and glaucoma is due to the drop in oxygen levels in the blood that occurs when you stop breathing. Low oxygen concentration in the blood may contribute to the degradation of the optic nerve, potentially leading to glaucoma.

If you have sleep apnea it is important to go to your eye doctor for regular eye exams. During a routine eye exam, your eye doctor will check the pressure in your eye to determine if it is where it should be. If not, you may have glaucoma. Early detection is key, as glaucoma causes irreversible vision loss and possible blindness.

Although ocular irritation may occur, it is advised to continue using the CPAP machine, as it can prevent sometimes life-threatening impacts of sleep apnea. If it appears that eye problems and dryness are developing as a result of CPAP use, visit your eye doctor for guidance on how to help prevent this irritation or eye conditions such as glaucoma.

At Yesnick Vision Center, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 702-500-0525 or book an appointment online to see one of our Las Vegas eye doctors.

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