Over 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation. It is a disorder that involves an involuntary cessation of breathing while a person sleeps. This condition can have serious and life-threatening consequences if it is not treated. Sleep apnea can also cause floppy eyelid syndrome and normal-tension glaucoma. The floppy eyelid syndrome which can be caused by sleep apnea leads to dryness, severe eye surface issues, and even corneal abrasions. Sleep apnea causes a reduced amount of oxygen concentration getting to the optic nerve which can result in normal-tension glaucoma.
One of the most common treatment options for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. These machines, however, cause ocular surface issues. While the newer machines try to avoid the dry air from coming out, it still tends to leak out and moves past the eye. This air moving all night causes an increase in dryness of the eyes.
Sometimes treatment can be as simple as using a thicker, non-preserved artificial tear in the eye just before bedtime. It is important for the artificial tear to be preservative free since it will be used every night. It is also important that the drop be thicker and more viscous so that it stays in the eye protecting it all night.
Drs. Vaher, Marcussen, and Gesford discuss the effects of sleep apnea with their patients and create individual plans for their patients that will most effectively treat their needs from the drying affects due to sleep apnea treatments. At Complete Eye Care in Belmont, we have lots of treatment options for the dry eye effects of sleep apnea machines. It is important that anyone who has or suspects that they might have sleep apnea have an annual eye health exam. The doctors at Complete Eye Care in Belmont, North Carolina have been helping people in Gaston County as well as the Greater Charlotte-Metro area and Clover and Lake Wylie, South Carolina with the ocular complications from sleep apnea. It is important to monitor your eye health annually to look for any associated ocular findings from sleep apnea.