Did You Know: Sleep Apnea Can Be Diagnosed By A Routine Eye Exam
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that affects millions of Americans. It is caused by relaxation of the muscles in the back of the throat while sleeping, which obstructs breathing. Sleep Apnea is associated with a myriad of health problems including stroke, hypertension, diabetes, heart arrhythmias, fatigue, and liver problems. Did you know, however, that it is also associated with many eye conditions as well? Floppy eye-lid syndrome, papilledema, optic neuropathies and glaucoma, which may cause blindness, are all serious eye conditions that may be associated with sleep apnea. Patients with sleep apnea are often heavy snorers and will frequently stop breathing due to the obstruction, or collapse of the airway, and then gasp for air. The collapse leads to lower blood oxygen levels and poor circulation, which can result in cardiac arrest and optic neuropathies.
Those suffering from sleep apnea frequently have trouble getting a good night’s rest and often are restless throughout the night. One condition in particular, floppy eyelid syndrome, is the laxity of the upper lids due to the restless individual burying their face in their pillow or their forearms during restless periods. When this occurs the individual may wake up with their eyelids flipped inside out, experience watery eyes, discomfort, stickiness, blurred vision, downward pointing eyelashes or droopy eyelids. All of these eye conditions, however, can be detected during a thorough eye examination. If your eye doctor detects floppy eyelid syndrome they may discuss with you the possibility of sleep apnea as a cause and refer you to a sleep specialist for a sleep study. If diagnosed, there are several treatments for sleep apnea, which can reduce the risk of vision and life threatening conditions.