Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that, if left untreated, can increase a person’s risk of many health complications. These include stroke, obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure, among others. Now, researchers are adding vision loss to the list of devastating health problems found in some sleep apnea patients.
“This evidence is troubling, but hopefully it will encourage more patients living with sleep apnea to seek treatment in order to avoid these serious complications,” says Dr. Nick at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry. “Many patients don’t realize that dentists can treat mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea,” he adds.
One of the more recent studies to examine sleep apnea involved data from 51 patients at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan. The data were collected over an eight-year period. The researchers discovered that patients who had diabetic macular edema had an 80.6 percent rate of severe sleep apnea, compared to 45.5 percent of patients who did not have diabetic macular edema. In other words, severe sleep apnea appears to contribute to this serious eye disease. These patients also required more intensive treatments to manage their condition, such as laser therapy.
The lead researcher, Juifan Chang, stated, “Based on these results, we hope that more medical professionals will approach sleep apnea as a risk factor for diabetic macular edema.” Change further stated that earlier medical intervention is crucial for halting the progression of vision loss.
Like sleep apnea, diabetes can lead to many different health complications, especially when patients’ blood glucose levels aren’t properly managed. One possible health complication is vision loss. Uncontrolled blood glucose levels can, over time, result in diabetic retinopathy. This involves damage inflicted on the very small blood vessels in the eye. Permanent blindness can result.
Diabetes can also cause diabetic macular edema. In patients with retinopathy, the damaged blood vessels can begin to leak fluid and blood. This fluid can build up in the retina and cause swelling, known as macular edema. Diabetic macular edema may be indicated by blurry vision, double vision, and “floaters” or spots in the vision, as well as blindness, if left untreated.
If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may have been prescribed CPAP therapy. This involves wearing a mask, connected to an air pressure device, to maintain continuous positive airway pressure and prevent breathing from stopping during sleep. Unfortunately, many patients have trouble using a CPAP because it’s uncomfortable or it makes too much noise during the night. If you’re having trouble with your CPAP treatment, talk to a dentist about a custom-fitted oral appliance instead.
The dentists at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry are pleased to provide custom-made oral appliances to effectively and comfortably treat sleep apnea. We’ll work with you to help you get the sleep you need and manage your risk of sleep disorder-related complications. Call our office in Long Island, Suffolk County today to request an appointment to discuss dental sleep apnea treatments!
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