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The Links Between Glaucoma and Sleep

Glaucoma affects over 60 million people worldwide and is the second leading cause of blindness. While it’s been long known to be hereditary, a new American study reports a link between sleep problems and glaucoma.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting information from the retina to the brain. This most often results from increased pressure in the eye, although it can occur for other reasons.

Left untreated, glaucoma will result in gradual but permanent loss of vision.

What is the link to sleep?
Researchers surveyed more than 6,700 people over 40 years old. The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship between sleep and glaucoma.

Respondents were asked about how long they typically slept at night, how long it took them to fall asleep, the quality of their sleep, problems with sleepiness during the day and whether or not they’d previous been diagnosed with a sleep disorder (such as sleep apnea, insomnia or restless leg syndrome).

Researchers found that there is an association between glaucoma and sleep problems. Here are some highlights:

• People who slept for 10 hours or more a night were three times as likely to have glaucoma-related optic nerve damage as those who slept seven or fewer hours.

• Those who fell asleep in nine minutes or less or 30 minutes or more were twice as likely to have glaucoma as those who took 10 to 29 minutes to fall asleep.

• People who slept less than three or more than 10 hours a night were three times more likely to have visual field defects (blind spots) than those who slept seven hours per night.

• People who reported memory problems as a result of daytime sleepiness were twice as likely to have visual field defects than those who said they weren’t sleepy during the day and didn’t notice memory problems.

• People who reported having trouble working on their hobbies because of daytime sleepiness were three times as likely to suffer from visual field defects than those who had no problem working on hobbies and no daytime sleepiness.

While more research is needed to determine whether sleep issues are a risk factor for glaucoma or a consequence of the disease, there are definite links between the two.

Glaucoma testing in Edmonton
Vision loss caused by glaucoma can’t be reversed, but it can be treated if caught early. Visit your optometrist for an ocular health exam regularly. Call an Optometrists’ Clinic Inc. location today to make an appointment.

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