Could Sleep Apnea cause Blindness?

can sleep apnea cause blindnessRoyal Oak and Birmingham, MI

If you have diabetes or someone you know is diabetic, please continue reading this blog today. Our Detroit sleep apnea dentist at Hartrick Dentistry wants to share some vital information about sleep apnea and diabetes. It may surprise you to know that severe cases of sleep apnea actually could increase the likelihood of blindness in people with diabetes. This is related to macular edema and the fact that this vision problem is more challenging to treat in people with diabetes that also suffer from sleep apnea. Continue reading today’s blog to learn how Dr. Nancy Hartrick could help you better manage your sleep apnea and help save your sight.

Diabetic Macular Edema

A complication of diabetes, macular edema, occurs in diabetics when fluid and blood accumulate in the macula, leading to inflammation. The macula is located at the center of the eye near the retina, and it is responsible for detailed vision. As fluid accumulates in the macula due to retinal blood vessels that are swollen and leaking, it could result in vision loss or total blindness.

What does sleep apnea have to do with diabetic macular Edema?

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep-breathing disorder that impedes airflow while sleeping. The airway could be partially or fully blocked, leading to loud snoring or gasping for air sounds. Other common sleep apnea symptoms include chronic fatigue, moodiness, lack of energy, and sexual impotence. Many health risks, including work safety hazards, cardiovascular disease, heart attack, diabetes, and stroke, are elevated in someone with unmanaged sleep apnea.

Recent studies reveal a connection between unmanaged sleep apnea and worsening eye conditions. Irregular breathing patterns, such as the case in sleep apnea sufferers, lead to lower oxygen levels in the blood, which could injure blood vessels throughout the body and increases inflammation and blood pressure. This is bad news for people with diabetes. These associated sleep apnea risks could cause diabetic macular edema to develop or worsen without treatment.

Additionally, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan released a study led by head researcher Juifan Chaiang, MD, which analyzed data from a 51 participants that were diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy over an eight-year span. Patients with severe unmanaged sleep apnea were significantly more likely to also suffer from diabetic macular edema. To compare, participants without diabetic macular edema were much less likely to have sleep apnea. In patients with this common eye disorder among diabetics, 80.6 percent also had sleep apnea, compared to only 45.5 who did not have a sleep-breathing disorder. Furthermore, the study reports that participants requiring significant treatment for macular edema also had sleep apnea.

What to do if you think you have sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious condition, especially if you have diabetes. Without treatment, you could be at a higher risk of going blind. If you snore, feel tired all of the time regardless of how much sleep you seem to get, or believe that you have other sleep apnea symptoms, schedule an evaluation with Hartrick Dentistry today by calling (248) 549-0950. Dr. Hartrick offers noninvasive ways to manage sleep apnea that do not involve resorting to an annoying and loud CPAP machine. To learn more, schedule your consultation today!

Posted in Sleep Apnea