Sleep Apnea Tied to Increased Risk of Blindness

Thursday, 08 Aug 2013 03:27 PM

By Nick Tate

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People with sleep apnea are far more likely to develop glaucoma, according to new research by scientists in Taiwan.
 
The study, published in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is the first to calculate the risk of the eye disease among people with the sleep disorder.
 
"We hope that this study encourages clinicians to alert obstructive sleep apnea patients of the associations between obstructive sleep apnea and open-angle glaucoma as a means of raising the issue and encouraging treatment of those who need it," said lead researcher Herng-Ching Lin, and colleagues from the College of Medical Science and Technology at Taipei Medical University.
 
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For the study, the researchers examined a nationwide database to examine the prevalence and risk of the most common form of glaucoma among patients with the most common form of sleep apnea.
 
Medical records of more than 7,000 patients were tracked and the results showed the risk of developing open-angle glaucoma — the second leading cause of blindness — within five years of an obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis was 1.67 times higher in those who had the sleep disorder.
 
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that blocks breathing during sleep and afflicts more than 100 million people worldwide. Glaucoma affects nearly 60 million worldwide.
 
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all adults should get a baseline eye exam by age 40, when early signs of disease and vision changes may start to occur.

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