A common cure for snoring could help to prevent loss of vision in people suffering from diabetes, it has been claimed.
In a recent study carried out at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, specialists found that 35 patients with diabetic retinopathy, a common vision problem in diabetes patients, benefitted from improved eyesight after using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device.
The mask is worn over the nose and mouth at nighttime in order to help people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea, a condition where the soft tissue of the throat collapses and partially blocks the airway.
In the tests, the device was worn every night by the patients for varying lengths of time, though the most effective length appeared to be two-and-a-half hours.
According to the experts, the benefits to diabetes sufferers could be that the mask boosts oxygen levels in the blood, which helps reduce blood pressure.
It is commonly known that elevated blood pressure can increase the damage to blood vessels in the eye, particularly among those with diabetic retinopathy, where high blood sugar levels damage the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye.
The study complements recent research which showed that people with diabetes are more likely to suffer from sleep apnoea than healthy people, and raise questions about whether snorers are at an elevated risk of eye problems.
Commenting on the study, Professor Glen Jeffery, from the Institute of Ophthalmology, told the Daily Mail that it is a potentially important finding.
"Although, initially, the results seem slightly surprising, the scientific rationale behind it makes sense. The study targets problems in the eye, but in the long run it would be interesting to see if it impacts on other problems that diabetics have. There are potentially big advantages if this is effective," he explained.