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Eye-Opening Discovery: OSA Causes Ocular Surface Disease

written by / August 5, 2022
An Eye-Opening Discovery: OSA Causes Ocular Surface Disease

We have some bad news for all those with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Namely, a new study found that OSA doesn’t only affect your nose but your eyes as well. 

Health conditions like eye redness, dysfunction of the oil glands (Meibomian glands), glaucoma, dry eye, and floppy eye syndrome (FES) are all more likely in OSA patients. 

Yet, what exactly is sleep apnea, and how does it affect the eyes?

This devious breathing disorder causes irregular breathing with short non-breathing intervals during sleep. Currently, some 22 million Americans have OSA. However, many of those suffering from OSA don’t even know it.

As for the link between OSA and eye health, scientists have found that OSA-induced hypoxia can cause considerable damage to the eyes and surrounding organs.

Over the course of the study, published in the journal Nature and Science of Sleep, 181 OSA patients with no previous treatment were tested with polysomnography and regular eye check-ups. The data was then compared with a control group. 

The results revealed that 60% of those with severe OSA also had FES, compared to merely 11.5% of healthy individuals diagnosed with this syndrome. A person with FES has an exceptionally big and floppy top eyelid. Likewise, there’s increased eye redness and irritation, even blurred vision in extreme cases.

OSA patients are also more likely to have dry eye, glaucoma (increased eye pressure), Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (NAION), and other eye conditions. 

The use of CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) also carries a greater risk of developing dry eye and bacterial conjunctivitis. Luckily, endothelial cell density and corneal staining showed no significant differences when tested. 

All in all, if you suspect or are diagnosed with this insidious sleep disorder, prompt treatment is advised.

Marija Kovachevska is a content writer at, Biochemist and Activist. After obtaining her BSc in Biochemistry and Physiology she changed her microscope for content research tools and continued researching in the fields of Medicine, Biology, and Communication. Her insatiable curiosity flare drove her to become a “content scientist writer” as she likes to say. Reality fascinates her and facts and statistics are a must-have feature in her articles. Fluent in English and French, she is a volunteer and communication associate for several non-profit organizations. French culture and handcrafting are her passion, but in her free time, she indulges in long walks and traveling, or as she likes to say “experiencing the inexperienced.”

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