Sleep Apnea and Eye Health in the Triangle

imagerymajesticMany people in Raleigh and Durham have experienced sleep apnea. This inability to sleep correctly each night puts great strain on the body and affects many organs. While many may guess it impacts the heart, it might be surprising to note that it can also affect the human eye.

In turn, many individuals have excessive sleepiness during the day that affects both work and normal life. Sleep Apnea occurs when the muscles in the throat block the airway, causing breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep.

These continuous pauses can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and may occur up to 30 times per hour. The pauses cause the body to move out of a deep sleep into a lighter sleep. It is exhausting, and the human body agrees. After such exertion, the body does not receive the rest it truly needs causing sufferers to feel sleepy throughout the day.

The Mayo Clinic reports that more than 12 million people in the United States have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This is not a small number. If you live in the Triangle and think you may have this condition, contact Park Ophthalmology for an evaluation from Beth R. Friedland M.D. today!

Sleep Apnea is a risk for several eye conditions including these important four:

  • Glaucoma: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can cause two types of Glaucoma—the second most common cause of blindness. People with severe cases of sleep apnea tend to have more severe cases of glaucoma. It’s crucial for people with OSA to receive an annual eye examination to check for Glaucoma, especially if they experience any changes in vision.
  • Floppy Eyelid Syndrome: This disorder is uncomfortable to those who have it. It causes the eyelids to turn inside-out spontaneously during sleep, which leads to eye watering, stickiness, and blurred vision.
  • Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Nueropathy (NAION): While painless, people with this condition experience sudden vision loss in one eye, usually noticed upon wakening. Up to 6,000 people annually in the United States are diagnosed with NAION, which can cause irreversible vision loss.
  • Papilledema: Obstructive sleep apnea may also cause Papilledema, or swelling of the optic nerve. This swelling can lead to pressure, worsening vision and, in some cases, blindness. Although the links between these conditions and Obstructive Sleep Apnea are not always clear, knowing the links may exist can help ophthalmologists stay alert for these problems.

Call the team at Park Ophthalmology if you experience any signs of these conditions or excessive sleepiness. Remember, regular eye exams are critical to eye health!


This article about Sleep Apnea is brought to you by the professional team at Park Ophthalmology located in the Triangle Region of North Carolina.

The information contained in this blog article is intended solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be offered as medical advice.


Park Ophthalmology

5306 NC Highway 55, Suite 102 (adjacent to the RTP/ Research Triangle Park)

Durham, NC 27713

Office: 919 544 5375

Fax: 919 544 5829


Park Ophthalmology North

6512 Six Forks Road, Suite 105

Raleigh, NC 27615

Office: 919 846 6915

Photo: imagery majestic,

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