Skip to main content

To our Valued Patients: We are happy to announce that we reopened and are now seeing patients. Please click here to read our new protocols

Reception_Ray-Dahl_rec-cropped
Home »

Dry Eye

How Sleep Apnea Affects The Eyes

Did you know that some eye conditions are associated with sleep apnea? According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, and Health Canada reports similar prevalence. It’s a sleep disorder where people stop breathing — often multiple times per night — while sleeping.

If you have sleep apnea: it tends to take longer for your tears to be replenished, you’re more likely to have ocular irritation, you have a higher chance of developing floppy eyelids, and you’re at increased risk for glaucoma.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

There are different types of sleep apnea. The most common one is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During OSA, your airway becomes partially blocked due to relaxed muscles in your nose and throat. This causes apnea (the absence of breathing) or hypopnea (abnormally shallow, slow breathing). It’s twice as common in men, and is more likely to affect people with obesity, hypertension, diabetes or heart disease.

What are the common symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much to allow normal breathing. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s oxygen supply, which can lead to potentially serious health consequences.

While snoring is a common symptom, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Interrupted sleep can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability or depression, headaches in the morning, difficulty concentrating and thinking, and a sore throat.

Which Eye Conditions Are Associated With Sleep Apnea?

Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when increased pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, leading to vision loss and sometimes blindness. In some cases, it might be due to a drop in blood oxygen levels, which happens when you stop breathing. However, CPAP machines, one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea, can also cause glaucoma.

So, people with sleep apnea — even if it’s being treated — need to get their eyes checked on a regular basis for glaucoma.

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES) is an eye condition where a person has an unusually large and floppy upper eyelid. It can cause eye redness, irritation, discharge, or blurry vision — and over 90% of people with FES also have sleep apnea.

Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) is an eye condition that occurs when there is a loss of blood flow to the optic nerve. Patients typically complain of significant vision loss in one eye without any major pain. Approximately 70-80% of patients with NAION have been found to have OSA.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Also referred to as an ‘eye stroke,’ retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina. A recent study of 114 RVO patients found that sleep apnea was suspected in 74% of the patients that had previously been diagnosed with RVO.

Other Eye Health Issues Associated With Sleep Apnea

Some other ocular conditions that are more common in patients with sleep apnea include: papilledema, keratoconus, and central serous chorioretinopathy. Furthermore, in addition to glaucoma mentioned above, CPAP machines are associated with dry eye syndrome and bacterial conjunctivitis.

Talk To Your Doc

Get eye exams regularly to rule out eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss, especially if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. At Ray Dahl Optical & Optometrists in Sidney we encourage you to share your medical history with us so we can better diagnose and treat any eye conditions or ocular diseases you may have, and help you keep your eyes nice and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Samantha Bourdeau

Q: What Causes Sleep Apnea?

  • A: Sleep apnea occurs when in-part or completely stop breathing when sleeping. This causes your lungs to strain harder for oxygen, and makes the brain send signals that jerk your body awake to resume proper breathing.

Q: What are the Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea?

  • A: A common sign of sleep apnea is loud snoring. Snoring that is loud enough to disturb the sleep of the patient as well as others around, even across the walls. That said, not everyone who snores suffers from obstructive sleep apnea.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Sidney, British Columbia. Visit Ray Dahl Optical & Optometrists for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

Masks Can Cause Dry Eye Symptoms!

Ray Dahl Optical & Optometrists Local Dry Eye treatment center in Sidney, British Columbia

At our eye clinic near you, we’ve been seeing an increasing number of patients who visit due to stinging eyes, redness and blurred vision – all classic signs of dry eye syndrome. While dry eye syndrome has always been a common reason to book an appointment with our optometrist near you, what’s new is that the dry eye symptoms seem to be caused by wearing masks.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Sidney eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

What Is Prevent Blindness?

Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness was established by volunteers to decrease the amount of preventable blindness in children. They helped to almost eliminate a condition called ophthalmia neonatorum, a leading cause of blindness in infants at the time.

How do masks lead to dry eyes?

If you’re wearing a mask and eyeglasses, every time you breathe it fogs up your lenses. Then they defog, only to fog up again with your next breath. Steamed-up glasses and the onset of dry eye symptoms is an emerging condition to be aware of. The main reason for promoting awareness of MADE is not to encourage anyone to stop wearing a mask, but rather, it’s to help people manage the eye irritation that may result – while continuing to don face masks.

When you breathe, you expel air over the top of your mask. This air flows over the surface of your eyes and can dry out the tear film that coats and lubricates your eye surface. It also speeds evaporation of tears.

In general, our eye doctor near you has found that mask wearing doesn’t trigger the onset of dry eye syndrome in people who don’t have it. Instead, it can worsen symptoms in people who already have the condition or are at high risk for it – such as people who spend a lot of time staring at computer screens. Nowadays, with all the working-from-home and Zoom meetings that occur, most people fall into the category of “at risk” for dry eye syndrome.

How can you prevent your mask from causing dry eye irritation?

  • Make sure your mask fits properly. A poorly fitting face covering increases the chances that exhaled air escapes from the top opening and flows over your eyes. Push the metal strip at the top margin of your mask so it fits snugly over the contour of your nose and cheekbones, blocking airflow.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes. This habit can lead to a long list of problems, including micro-scratches in your cornea and swelling that can exacerbate the symptoms.
  • Don’t ignore dry eye symptoms. Pay attention to how your eyes feel and seek effective treatment, such as lubricating eye drops, from our optometrist near you.

Book an eye exam at an eye clinic near you to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you.

Ray Dahl Optical & Optometrists, your Sidney eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT

FOLLOW US