Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

Sleep apnoea may increase risk of glaucoma

By Dental Tribune International
August 21, 2013

TAIPEI, Taiwan: According to new research conducted at Taipei Medical University, patients suffering from sleep apnoea should be encouraged by their clinicians to undergo an eye exam. A nationwide study of more than 7,000 participants has shown that the sleep condition is significantly associated with the risk of developing glaucoma, one of the main causes of blindness.

The study included 1,012 patients with diagnosed obstructive sleep apnoea and 6,072 healthy controls. The Taiwanese researchers studied medical records of all participants retrospectively to determine the prevalence and risk of obstructive sleep apnoea among patients during a five-year follow-up period after diagnosis.

Overall, the scientists observed that 1.67 times more participants with obstructive sleep apnoea developed open-angle glaucoma within five years compared with controls and established obstructive sleep apnoea as an independent risk factor for glaucoma.

According to the researchers, glaucoma affects nearly 60 million people worldwide. However, only half of them are aware of it, as the eye disease progresses painlessly with gradual loss of vision. The World Health Organization suggests that glaucoma poses an even greater public health challenge than cataracts, as the blindness it causes through damage to the optic nerve is irreversible.

The study, titled “Obstructive sleep apnea and increased risk of glaucoma: A population-based matched-cohort study”, was published in the August issue of the Ophthalmology journal.

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