Sleep Apnea and Glaucoma

September 10, 2013 | Sleep Apnea |

With a significant percentage of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) patients suffering from some forms of glaucoma, researchers have begun to study the relationships between the two conditions over the last several years. For OSA patients that are also living with glaucoma, the questions regarding the effects of CPAP therapy via a CPAP machine are real and ongoing.

My eye

Glaucoma is actually comprised of several optic nerve-damaging eye conditions. It is typically caused by high pressure within the eye, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms are usually slow-progressing, with vision loss being one of the only signs. Some of the glaucoma risk factors such as age are very common while others such as ethnicity are less so.

A number of clinical studies over the last several years have shown an association between sleep apnea and several glaucoma indicators. This includes intraocular pressure (IOP), visual field means deviation, cup-to-disk ratios, and retinal nerve fiber layer thickness. More recently Taipei Medical University researchers published results from a study in the journal Ophthalmology that showed OSA patients have a higher risk of developing glaucoma compared with people without the sleep disorder.

There are many studies showing the reduction in IOP among glaucoma patients following use of a CPAP machine. Still, the complexities of glaucoma as well as the wide variations in OSA severities make a direct correlation more elusive. Some studies have suggested that CPAP therapy can even raise IOP to some degree. But, many researchers generally agree that the risk is possible in a smaller subset of OSA patients.

Even then, most researchers and medical experts see the increased oxygen levels attained through the use of a CPAP machine and the overall health benefits far outweighing the hypothetical risks. The takeaway for OSA patients, especially those with severe forms of the condition, is to work with their physician and sleep therapist to monitor all physiological conditions and ask questions.

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The direct links between increased risk of hypertension, high blood pressure, obesity, OSA, and other severe health risks are becoming clearer each day. Some still see the effects of sleep apnea on ocular blood flow as being in the hypothetical phase. But, there are several current studies looking at sleep and IOP. In fact, the Mayo Clinic has many Glaucoma research studies focusing on circadian changes and how sleep can impact glaucoma.

According to their research, Intraocular pressure (IOP) varies throughout the day with the highest pressures occurring during sleep. While these changes happen for everyone regardless of health, the reasons are still unclear.

What we do know, and what is becoming even clearer, is that sleep has a profound effect on our health. With the proven benefits for millions of OSA patients using a CPAP machine, more restful sleep lead to healthier lives.

For additional information on various topics concerning sleep apnea and CPAP products, please refer to our blog. It has updates and offers free advice and information.  If you’d like to learn more about the quality sleep apnea products we carry, call us at (866) 414-9700. You can also contact us through our website, or add our app for additional discounts.

Chris Vasta CPAP Expert & President at The CPAP Shop


Chris Vasta

Over a 10+ year career at PHH Mortgage managing a $100 million portfolio, Chris Vasta learned the ins and outs of the business world. He learned how to establish business relationships, lead a multi-prong team, and implement strategies for long-term growth. In 2007, Vasta used that experience to transition his role into president of The CPAP Shop. Over his tenure, Vasta has been involved in everything from website design to warehouse layout. His hands-on approach with customers has evolved into an in-depth understanding of the challenges of beginning and adhering to sleep therapy. He often provides his insights on product…

1 Comments Leave new

  • Alison Fenwick

    My eyesight changed dramatically one I started with my cpap machine. I mentioned it to my optician but said it wasn’t linked. Now I’m thinking it might be

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