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Study links sleep apnea and diabetic eye disease

Researchers have found that severe sleep apnea is a risk factor for diabetic eye disease, a condition that can lead to vision loss and even blindness.

It’s long been established that sleep apnea is a serious condition that can lead to a number of other health issues. Now, researchers have found that severe cases of the condition may be a risk factor for diabetic eye disease. Read on to find out more about the connection…

What is diabetic eye disease?

Diabetic disease, also known as diabetic retinopathy, is a condition in which the tiny blood vessels at the back of the eye become damaged as a result of poorly controlled diabetes. The condition can cause small bulges to stick out from the blood vessels, causing fluid and blood to leak into the retina. This excess fluid can then in turn cause the retina to swell, leading to a loss of vision. This swelling of the retina is known as macular edema.

What did the study look at?

The study was conducted by researchers in Taiwan who examined data from patients at the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taipei over the course of eight years. The researchers found that patients who had been diagnosed with diabetic macular edema had a considerably higher rate of severe sleep apnea than those without the condition. They also found that the more severe a patient’s sleep apnea was, the worse the macular edema appeared to be.

What do the findings mean?

The research found that sleep apnea appears to be a risk factor for diabetic macular edema, in which case it is important that sleep apnea is diagnosed and managed as early as possible. If you are diabetic and suspect that you may have sleep apnea, we highly recommend that you come in and see us so that we can perform an assessment and recommend a treatment as soon as possible. There is an important connection between airway conditions and overall wellness, and our team is trained to diagnose and treat these types of issues. If you would like to complete a self-sleep evaluation, take a look here.

How we can help?

At Elite Dental of Staten Island, we offer a number of treatment options for airway concerns such as sleep apnea. These include behavior modification techniques, such as sleep position training, assistance with weight reduction, and lifestyle changes like a reduction in alcohol consumption, limiting the use of sedatives and muscle relaxants and smoking cessation.

We also offer patients the option of oral appliance therapy, which can often provide an effective solution. Studies show that oral appliances tend to be most effective for the treatment of snoring and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.

Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) is another common treatment for breathing disorders. The treatment involves the use of a plastic device known as a CPAP mask, which completely covers the nose and mouth and is connected to a machine with an air hose. The CPAP machine works by sending a constant flow of airway pressure to the throat, ensuring that the airway stays open during sleep. This effectively helps to prevent regular pauses in breathing throughout the night, and improves the quality of sleep.

In very severe cases, we may recommend surgery for the treatment of sleep apnea. Some of the surgical options available to sleep apnea patients include removal of the tonsils; removal of the adenoids; removal of the excess throat tissue in order to widen the airway; tracheostomy; gastroplasty; nasal surgery; radiofrequency palatoplasty; tongue base suspension; and maxillomandibular advancement. If surgery is a suitable option for you, we will let you know what to expect from the procedure and answer any questions you might have.

If you would like to find out more about our treatments for sleep apnea, or would like to make an appointment for a consultation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.