Snoring can be annoying for your bed partner or others in next door rooms but it can also be a sign of a very serious medical condition.
Snoring is associated with a condition called sleep apnea.
There are 2 types of sleep apnea - central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
OSA happens when the soft tissue of the throat collapses and causes the airway to become blocked. This happens on and off during sleep and causes a decrease of oxygen in our blood flow. There is a pause in the person's breath and then the brain tells them to breathe again and the person gasps. Despite all this happening, the person doesn't wake up.
As you can imagine, the lack of oxygen in the blood flow can have an impact on the way our body's organs work and keep healthy. Heart disease, stroke and even cancers have been associated with people with sleep apnea. But also the eyes are one of those structures affected. Some conditions such as retinal vein occlusion and non-arteritic ischemic optic neuropathy can be associated with OSA. These conditions can cause significant sight loss which can be permanent. Other conditions of the eye related to OSA are glaucoma, keratoconus and floppy eyelid syndrome.
Wondering if you may have sleep apnea? Here are some of the risk factors
🌜Neck circumference of over 19 inches
🌜Others seeing you stop breathing when sleeping
Treatments for OSA include devices to wear in your mouth and/or using a breathing machine called a CPAP when sleeping. Even playing the didgeridoo can strengthen the throat muscles and help make them less likely to collapse when sleeping.
If you are worried about your snoring and having sleep apnea, contact your GP and make sure to let you optometrist know of your condition when you visit for your eye exam.
Dr Valarie Jerome
Writing and sharing interesting topics affecting patients in their daily life, our practice news and the profession of optometry.