Scientists at Loyola University Chicago recently published a study that suggests sleep apnea patients tend to have drooping eyelids. Investigators hope this study will encourage eye doctors to inform patients with this eye condition of the potential correlation with sleep apnea.
35 sleep apnea sufferers took part in this study at Loyola University’s Medical Center. As sleep experts examined each participant overnight, they discovered that 32 of these patients had slack upper eyelids.
After researchers discovered this correlation, they sent all of the patients to get their eyes checked by a certified ophthalmologist. Further tests revealed that 17 of these patients had medically diagnosable lax eyelid syndrome.
In their report, study authors urged all eye doctors to be aware of this connection when giving eye exams. While more research needs to be done on this connection, it couldn’t hurt to ask patients with lax eyelids about their sleeping habits and refer them to sleep specialists.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical condition in which a patient suddenly stops breathing for a few moments during deep sleep. One of the key warning signs of sleep apnea is loud snoring. Patients with sleep apnea may also experience symptoms throughout the day like fatigue, brain fog, and depression.
If sleep apnea is left untreated, this disease could lead to more serious problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, or stroke. People who are overweight, smokers, and male have a higher chance of suffering from sleep apnea.
Recent studies conducted by the NHS found that at least 250,000 UK men have some degree of sleep apnea. Just under one billion people around the world are estimated to suffer from this condition.
Thankfully, there are many effective treatment options for sleep apnea sufferers. Most sleep apnea patients use a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) to help increase oxygen flow as they sleep. Some sleep apnea patients experience relief using jaw re-positioning tools and/or nostril nerve stimulation.
Dr. Charles Bouchard, who teaches in Loyola University’s Department of Ophthalmology, was the lead author on this study. A few other key contributors to this research include Drs. Mackenzie Sward, Clayton Kirk, and Sunita Kumar.
Anyone interested in reading more about this study should pick up the latest copy of Ocular Surface. Study authors entitled their project, “Lax eyelid syndrome (LES), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and ocular surface inflammation.”