New research suggests people who sleep poorly could be more susceptible to glaucoma and permanent vision loss.
January Is Glaucoma Awareness Month
Glaucoma is a family of diseases that damage the optic nerve and can cause irreversible vision loss. The optic nerve is located in the back of the eye and transmits information to the brain. Elevated intraocular (inner eye) pressure creates stress on the optic nerve, and if it is damaged, vision loss occurs.
More than three million Americans have glaucoma; by 2030, the National Eye Institute expects that number to reach 4.2 million.
Glaucoma often has no warning signs in the early stages, and a comprehensive eye exam is the only way to detect glaucoma. Because it develops without notice, glaucoma is called the “sneak thief of sight.” If left untreated, glaucoma can cause irreversible sight loss.
Sleep Quality and Glaucoma Risk
Snoring, daytime sleepiness or sleeping too much or too little can increase the risk for glaucoma, according to a study by UK Biobank. A research team analyzed data from 409,053 participants between the ages of 40 and 69 who provided information about their sleep.
All three of these factors influenced glaucoma risk (Medical Xpress):
- Those who slept too long (more than nine hours) or too short (less than seven hours) had an 8 percent increased risk for glaucoma.
- Snorers had a 12 percent increased risk.
- Those with frequent daytime sleepiness had a 20 percent increased risk for glaucoma.
Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery With Cataract Surgery
Although there is no cure for glaucoma, early treatment can prevent permanent eye damage and protect your vision. Specific innovative procedures, like Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS), can treat glaucoma and cataracts. Some MIGS procedures are stand-alone, but other MIGS operations can be performed in conjunction with cataract surgery so surgeons can treat both conditions simultaneously. Another benefit of MIGS is that it targets eye tissues that are not utilized by traditional surgeries, allowing for a more comprehensive array of treatment options in the future.
Make an Appointment for an Eye Exam
If you have glaucoma, it is crucial to schedule regular eye exams and take all prescribed medication. African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are even more at risk of having glaucoma, but anyone can develop the disease. Other risk factors include the following:
- Being 45 or older
- Family history of glaucoma
- History of injury to the eye
- History of steroid use
- Nearsighted (myopic)
- Farsighted (hyperopic)
- History of elevated intraocular pressure
Let your ophthalmologist know if you are at risk for glaucoma. Many treatments available can help preserve your vision and delay the progression of the disease.