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Obstructive sleep apnea and glaucoma are two common health issues, but they are rarely discussed in the same sentence. That’s likely to change though. Researchers in Taiwan believe those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to get glaucoma, which is the second leading cause of blindness.
Researchers at Taipei Medical University looked at National Health Insurance medical records for over one thousand patients aged 40 and older who were suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, the chronic condition that blocks breathing during sleep. They compared these people to about six thousand cohort control patients. They discovered that the risk of developing open-angle glaucoma within five years of a diagnosis of sleep apnea was 1.67 times higher in those who had sleep apnea compared to those in the control group.
The researchers suggest that the relationship between sleep apnea and glaucoma is significant due to the large number of people worldwide who suffer from these conditions.
Almost 60 million people around the world have glaucoma. When it goes untreated, it reduces peripheral vision and can eventually lead to blindness. Sadly, only about half the people who get glaucoma are even aware of it at first because it causes no pain and the vision loss is really gradual.
It is estimated that sleep apnea affects 100 million people worldwide. In the United States 22 million suffer from the sleep disorder.