Sleep apnea causes a number of health problems. These range from the irritating such as snoring, and waking up frequently to the serious such as diabetes to heart attacks. But, did you know that this dangerous sleep disorder can also cause glaucoma? If you are like most people, you are unaware of the connection between sleep apnea and glaucoma.
There is mounting evidence that points to a clear correlation of sleep apnea and worsening or developing glaucoma. You or a loved one may suffer from this nighttime ailment also known obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and are at risk to develop glaucoma.
A recent study shows that 28 subjects (with an average age of 50) suffering from standard tension glaucoma or primary open-angle glaucoma present with higher development rates when sleep apnea was also present. Another study indicates that people with OSA have an increased risk of developing glaucoma within five years of diagnosis.
Why this happens remains somewhat of a mystery to researchers. Over 60 million people suffer from glaucoma across the globe and it remains one of the leading causes of blindness. The loss of vision comes from a gradual damaging of the optic nerve, first causing a loss of peripheral vision, then to a total loss of sight.
The best way you can reduce the risk of developing glaucoma through sleep apnea is by treating the sleeping disorder itself. Seeking treatment will do more than help reduce your chances of developing glaucoma. Here are just a few of the additional problems sleep apnea may cause:
So, if developing glaucoma isn’t enough to motivate you to deal with your sleep disorder, the host of other health problems it can cause should. Why risk developing severe problems, or even dying? Treatment is easier than you may think. Let’s take a look at the next step.
If you have seen your doctor and have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, then the most likely course will be to implement the use of a device which will use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). A CPAP device works by pushing air into the throat and creating pressure that keeps soft tissue such as the tongue or tonsils from blocking your airways. This action allows a normal flow of oxygen into your bloodstream and will also keep you from waking up due to choking.
Your doctor may have prescribed a CPAP device to treat your sleep apnea, but you cannot tolerate it. You may be like a large number of sleep apnea sufferers who can’t tolerate a nosepiece attached to their face or are kept awake by the growling noise the CPAP machine makes. If you can’t use a CPAP device, than what other options are available? That is our next point.
If you can’t use a CPAP machine for your sleep apnea and do not want to develop glaucoma or other health issues, there is hope. A dentist can fit you for an oral appliance to deal with sleep apnea. Just like a CPAP machine, the goal of a dental device for sleep apnea is to keep the airway clear by preventing the tongue and other soft tissue from obstructing the airway. This can be accomplished with a device similar in appearance to the mouthguards often seen in athletics. The device is built with custom springs that ease the lower jaw and tongue forward. The result is an unobstructed airway that allows the sleep apnea sufferers to breath normally.
These FDA authorized oral appliances allow sleep apnea sufferers to use a tool that is usually more comfortable and less loud than a CPAP device. They operate by holding your airway open; this stops the airway from closing off and blocking the natural movement of air that occurs when you breathe. A number of studies confirm that oral appliances are useful in keeping your airway open.
While CPAP is only slightly more helpful than dental devices for sleep apnea, CPAP is only beneficial if it is used each night. Some patients who find CPAP hinders with their sleep are not receiving the full benefits of the device. Patients who cannot routinely use CPAP will benefit more from a dental appliance to manage their sleep apnea. Some people can’t bear the noise from a CPAP device or having a hose strapped to their face. In these cases, oral appliances are a great alternative.
If you or a family member suffers from sleep apnea, is fearful of developing glaucoma, and can’t tolerate CPAP, Mark Levy DDS can help you. One of our helpful and caring staff members from will contact you and set up a time to talk about a dental device for sleep apnea. Don’t spend any more time worrying about glaucoma or other health issues related to sleep apnea; Doctor Levy can help.