Researchers in Taiwan have discovered that people with sleep apnea are far more likely to develop glaucoma compared to those without the sleep condition. The results of this study, which is the first to calculate the risk of the disease among people with the sleep disorder following diagnosis, is published in this month’s edition of Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Conducted by researchers at Taipei Medical University, the study examined the prevalence and risk of the most common form of glaucoma among patients with the most common form of sleep apnea. The researchers reviewed National Health Insurance medical records for 1,012 patients aged 40 and older throughout Taiwan who were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea between 2001-04, comparing them to 6,072 matched-cohort control patients. They determined that the risk of developing open-angle glaucoma within five years of an obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis was 1.67 times higher in those who had sleep apnea compared to the control subjects.
While previous studies demonstrate an increased prevalence of glaucoma, which is the second-leading cause of blindness worldwide , this study determined that obstructive sleep apnea is not simply a marker for poor health, but is actually an independent risk factor for open-angle glaucoma. The relationship between the two conditions is significant, given the large numbers of people worldwide who suffer from them.
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that blocks breathing during sleep for more than 100 million people worldwide. In obstructive sleep apnea, the airway becomes blocked, causing breathing to stop for up to two minutes. Symptoms include loud snoring and persistent daytime sleepiness.
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