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Glaucoma and sleep disorders often occur in combination

Glaucoma and sleep disorders often occur in combination


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Sleepless nights and glaucoma go hand in hand

Around five million people in Germany are at increased risk of developing a green star (glaucoma). Over two million people in this country already suffer from the eye disease. Current research shows that glaucoma is very often associated with problems falling asleep or staying asleep. Is the glaucoma a risk factor for sleep disorders or is it the other way around?

The German Ophthalmological Society (DOG) explains that glaucoma eye disease is often accompanied by sleep disorders. The DOG experts conclude that either glaucoma is a risk factor for sleep disorders or sleep disorders are a risk factor for glaucoma. The study results were recently published in the "Journal on Glaucoma".

What Are the Consequences of Glaucoma?

Glaucoma directly damages the optic nerve, which means that people can see less and less and ultimately even go blind. The course and progression of the disease varies from person to person and depends on several factors. One of the most important factors, according to the DOG experts, is increased eye pressure.

Sleep disorders and glaucoma

The study examined the sleeping habits of 6,700 glaucoma patients. The factors examined included the duration of sleep, the presence of difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and sleep-related diseases such as sleep apnea, the use of sleeping pills and daytime sleepiness. It was found that there were three times as many people with glaucoma who slept less than three or more than ten hours a night.

The reasons for the connection are still unclear

How the connection between sleep disorders and glaucoma comes about is so far unclear. "But the connection between sleep and glaucoma seems so clear that further studies in this area are appropriate," comments Professor Dr. med. Hagen Thieme, director of the eye clinic at the University Medical Center Magdeburg, the study results.

Which came first: the chicken or the egg?

As the German Ophthalmological Society reports, both types of mutual influence are conceivable. "Sleep disorders could be a risk factor that promotes the development of glaucoma," writes the DOG. But it could also be that the stress caused by the eye disease has a negative effect on sleep. Further studies have already shown that glaucoma sufferers are more sensitive to stress than healthy people.

What can help

Glaucoma often creates a vicious circle in which the fear of going blind and the progressive loss of vision fuel each other. Targeted relaxation methods such as autogenic training could help here. "Such methods can complement the eye-lowering treatment, but they cannot replace it," emphasizes the professor.

Early diagnosis can prevent blindness

According to the DOG experts, the best prerequisite for avoiding blindness and visual impairment due to glaucoma is early detection of the disease. The diagnosis can be made as part of an ophthalmological examination. "It makes sense to have the optic nerve examined by an ophthalmologist from the age of 40, and an annual optic nerve check is advisable from the age of 60", is the recommendation of Professor Dr. Hagen Thieme. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek

Swell:

  • Qiu, Ramulu, Boland. Association Between Sleep Parameters and Glaucoma in the United States Population. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Journal of Glaucoma, 2019, insights.ovid.com
  • T Bertelmann, I Strempel: Relaxation methods for glaucoma - importance of autogenic training, hypnosis and music medicine. Ophthalmologist 2016, springermedizin.de



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