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Can Sleeping on One Side Worsen Glaucoma?

Posted On March 17, 2015
March 17, 2015

Robbery is not an activity that should be promoted but let’s face it: Thieves need to be silent in order to be able to steal. Silence and quiet are important to avoid detection. And hence that is why glaucoma is often said to be the silent thief of sight because 50 percent of those affected do not know they should be concerned about their vision. Affecting close to 60 million people across the globe, glaucoma is an eye disease whereby there is an increase in eye pressure. When left untreated, this pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve resulting in total and permanent vision loss. Is there anything that can make glaucoma worse? For instance, can sleeping on one side worsen glaucoma?

What Can Worsen Glaucoma?

By the age of 40, The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all adults should get a baseline eye exam. This is the age at which the first signs start to appear for glaucoma, which can silently cause blindness if left untreated. In the past, research demonstrated an increased incidence of glaucoma in people with (OSA). OSA is a condition in which an airway obstruction is present while a person sleeps. Throughout the course of the night, a person can stop breathing for a few seconds to as long as minutes. These pauses can occur as little as five times to 30 or more! The connection between glaucoma and obstructive sleep apnea was based on the fact that the presence of untreated OSA predisposed the individual to a host of medical issues.

Recently, a group of researchers at Taipei Medical University proved that when a person has sleep apnea, there is a true risk factor for the development of glaucoma. Their results were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Within 5 years post OSA diagnosis, they determined that there was an increased risk of developing glaucoma. In fact, it was 1.67 times higher than in test subjects without sleep apnea.

It isn’t just a medical condition related to sleep that can increase the incidence and worsen glaucoma. Another new study discovered that sleep position can also worsen glaucoma. A group of researchers discovered that if an individual with glaucoma in just one eye slept with the affected eye close to the pillow, the pressure went up. Published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology, their results and conclusions demonstrated that glaucoma patients with this habitually preferred sleep position caused a worsening of their condition.

Glaucoma can also worsen due to causes unrelated to sleep. Medications such as corticosteroids, sulfa-containing drugs, and others that cause the eye to dilate affect glaucoma. It is always sound advice to consult with your physician about current medications, and get your eyesight evaluated.

If you have been wondering whether or not you have sleep apnea, contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 or schedule a consultation when it’s convenient for you.

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