Don't yawn or you'll go blind: link between sleep problems and glaucoma revealed

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Don't yawn or you'll go blind: link between sleep problems and glaucoma revealed
Don't yawn or you'll go blind: link between sleep problems and glaucoma revealed
2 November, 17:07SciencePhoto: INTEGRIS Health
Too little or too much sleep, snoring, daytime sleepiness and insomnia can all increase the risk of glaucoma and blindness.

Poor sleep is devastating: it affects judgment, mood, ability to absorb information, leads to the risk of accidents and injuries ... An international team of researchers who conducted the world's first large prospective cohort study of sleep patterns and glaucoma added to this bleak list reports The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/nov/01/study-reveals-link-between-sleep-problems-and-glaucoma The results showed that people with unhealthy sleep patterns were also more likely to develop eye disease.

More than 400,000 UK residents aged 40 to 69 took part in the study, which was conducted over ten years. The researchers analyzed their sleep patterns, including insomnia, sleep deprivation or excess (less than seven and more than nine hours), whether they were night or morning chronotypes (“owls” and “larks”), daytime sleepiness, and snoring. In addition, medical records were used that showed whether the participants had been diagnosed with glaucoma.

It turned out that, with the exception of chronotypes, all other features of sleep are associated with varying degrees of increased risk of developing glaucoma. So, compared with people who had a healthy sleep pattern, snoring and daytime sleepiness increased the risk of developing glaucoma by 11%, and insomnia and lack or excess sleep by 13%.

The study was observational, establishing the causes was not part of the task of scientists. In addition, glaucoma itself can affect sleep patterns, not the other way around. Nevertheless, there are plausible explanations for the link between sleep disturbances and glaucoma. So, intraocular pressure - a key factor in the development of glaucoma - increases when a person lies down, but does not sleep, as happens with insomnia. Depression and anxiety associated with sleep disorders can also increase it. And low levels of cellular oxygen caused by sudden cessation of breathing during sleep, sleep apnea, can lead to damage to the optic nerve.

The causes of glaucoma, which is characterized by progressive loss of light-sensitive cells in the eye and damage to the optic nerve, are still poorly understood. If this condition is not diagnosed early and treated, it can lead to permanent blindness. It is predicted that 112 million people worldwide will suffer from glaucoma by 2040.

The results are published in BMJ Open magazine.

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