Millions of people in the U.S. suffer from blindness or severe vision impairment. For some of them, cataracts or accidents led to their disability. For others, though, diabetic retinopathy is the root cause of their problem. Of course, individuals with diabetes can lower their risk of retinopathy by doing their best to manage their condition. But there is another thing they can do — get high-quality sleep. Let’s talk about research that links sleep apnea in Fort Worth to eye problems and what you can do to protect your vision.
Sleep Apnea and Diabetic Retinopathy
Retinopathy is a condition characterized by changes and damage to the blood vessels in the retina, an area toward the back of the eye that is sensitive to light. Eventually, retinopathy can lead to macular edema, or a buildup of fluid in the retina. The edema can cause distortions in the eye tissue that lead to vision impairment or total blindness. Retinopathy is common in patients with uncontrolled diabetes.
At first, it might seem like a stretch to connect sleep apnea to diabetic retinopathy and macular edema. However, research conducted in Taiwan has found a strong correlation between them. In fact, the researchers discovered that the rate of severe sleep apnea was twice as high in patients with diabetic macular edema compared to those without diabetic macular edema. They also found that the more severe the sleep apnea was, the worse the macular edema became.
How Does Sleep Apnea Cause Vision Problems?
It is highly unlikely that sleep apnea directly causes diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. However, it can be a major contributing factor to them. For example, sleep apnea is often associated with high blood pressure, which can damage blood vessels in the eye. It has also been noted that individuals with sleep apnea find it more difficult to keep their type 2 diabetes under control.
What You Can Do
Seeking sleep apnea treatment may help you manage your diabetes and decrease your risk of blindness in Fort Worth. Here is how you can get started:
- If you aren’t sure if you have sleep apnea, ask your general physician or a sleep expert to help you arrange for testing.
- Following your test, you can learn about treatment options. Many patients find that a custom oral appliance from a dentist is both effective and more comfortable than a CPAP machine.
- Consistently use your treatment. You should begin to notice improvements in the quality of your sleep soon after you get started with your oral appliance.
Of course, you should also do your best to control your diabetes by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, striving to maintain a healthy weight.
Sleep apnea can have adverse effects on your whole body, including your eyes! By doing all you can to get a good night’s rest, you can protect your vision and enjoy a higher quality of life.
Meet the Sleep Apnea Expert
Dr. Mitch Conditt began his career as a general dentist, but in recent years, he has chosen to focus primarily on treating sleep apnea and TMJ disorder. He specializes in offering oral appliance therapy. If you suspect you have sleep apnea or you are looking for an effective CPAP alternative, Dr. Conditt and our team would be pleased to serve you. Contact us at 817-527-8500.