sleep apnea can lead to blindness

Sleep Apnea Eventually could lead to Blindness, says New Study

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sleep apnea can lead to blindnessServing Brentwood, Belle Meade and Green Hills Areas of Nashville TN

If you or someone you love has diabetes, you need to read this! There are some things about sleep apnea and diabetes that your Nashville sleep apnea dentists at Devine Dentistry believe you need to know. Did you know that severe cases of sleep apnea increase the likelihood of vision loss in diabetics due to macular edema and that this vision problem is harder to treat in patients who suffer from sleep apnea? Sleep apnea and diabetes together could lead to blindness, according to a new study. Read on to learn more about this growing concern and how our dentists can help treat your sleep apnea, which could save your sight.

What is diabetic macular edema?

Diabetic macular edema is a complication of diabetes that causes an accumulation of fluid and blood in the macula—an area located in the center of the retina of the eye, which handles the most detailed part of your vision. This build-up of fluid clogs the macula, and it occurs due to leaking and swollen blood vessels in the retina. Macula edema could result in partial vision loss or even total and complete blindness.

The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea, or obstructive sleep apnea, is a serious sleep breathing disorder in which your ability to breathe becomes impeded or totally interrupted because of overly relaxed throat muscles, which collapse into the airway and create a blockage. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, as well as choking and gasping for air during sleep. If you or someone you love snores loudly and feels tired after a full night of sleeping, then sleep apnea might be the culprit. People with sleep apnea are at a significantly higher risk of several health hazards, including hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and type-2 diabetes.

How These Conditions Relate

Recent research has shown that sleep apnea exacerbates underlying eye conditions. Unfortunately, for people with diabetes and poor control over their blood sugar levels, the tiny blood vessels at the back of the eye can become damaged. The leading cause of that damage in diabetics is macular edema. When the eye becomes damaged, the resulting condition is called diabetic retinopathy. This is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.

There are four ways that sleep apnea could affect diabetics and increase their likelihood of macular edema that leads to retinopathy. Sleep apnea causes irregular breathing patterns that disrupt sleep and lead to a drop in blood oxygen levels. This decrease can injure blood vessels. In addition to breathing disruptions, sleep apnea causes increased insulin resistance, which elevates inflammation throughout the body, and increases blood pressure.

Research You Need to Know

In Taiwan, at the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, a study led by researcher Juifan Chiang, MD., was presented last fall. Dr. Chang and the team looked at data from all patients diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy over eight years at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. The rate of patients with severe sleep apnea was significantly higher if the patient congruently suffered from diabetic macular edema. In comparison, those without diabetic macular edema had much lower rates of sleep apnea. In patients who had diabetic macular edema, 80.6 percent of them also had severe sleep apnea, as opposed to 45.5 percent who did not suffer from sleep apnea. This study also concluded that diabetic macular edema in severe, untreated cases of sleep apnea. If a patient needed serious treatment to control their macular edema and prevent diabetic retinopathy, then they usually suffered from severe sleep apnea, according to this study. The patients that suffered from both required three or more treatments of medical or laser therapy.

Sleep Apnea Treatment in Nashville

Sleep apnea increases the risk of certain serious conditions; now, diabetic macular edema and potential blindness have been added to the list. We encourage you to schedule a sleep apnea today if you are a diabetic. Contact the office of Devine Dentistry by calling (615) 269-4209 to schedule an initial consultation if you live in the areas of Belle Meade, Green Hills, and Nashville, Tennessee.