Sleep apnea is a condition which causes difficulty in breathing while you are asleep. A number of health conditions are responsible for causing sleep apnea, including obesity, being overweight and diabetes. If a recent study is to be believed, sleep apnea may cause blindness in people with diabetes. According to the study, presented at the 123rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in the US, sleep apnea can contribute to development and worsening of Diabetic retinopathy. This occurs as a result of increased insulin resistance, elevated inflammation levels and rising blood pressure levels. All of these are risks associated with sleep apnea, which can worsen or lead to development of diabetic retinopathy.
Sleep apnea and diabetic retinopathy: What’s the link?
For the study, the research team looked at the data from all patients diagnosed over an 8-year period at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan.
“Based on the results, we hope that more medical professionals will approach sleep apnea as a risk factor for diabetic macular edema,” said study researcher Juifan Chiang from Taiwan.
Researchers mention that it is more difficult to treat diabetic retinopathy in patients with severe sleep apnea. When diabetics have poor control over the blood sugar levels, tiny blood vessels at the back of the eye can become damaged.
Sometimes, tiny bulges protrude from the blood vessels, leaking fluid and blood into the retina. This fluid can cause swelling or edema in an area of the retina that allows us to see clearly.
Researchers found the rate of severe sleep apnea was significantly higher in patients with diabetic macular edema compared with those without diabetic macular edema (80.6 per cent vs. 45.5 per cent).
They also found that the worse their sleep apnea was, the worse their macular edema. Severe sleep apnea was also more prevalent in patients who needed more treatment to control their macular edema.
Also read: Top 6 Ways To Fix Your Sleep Cycle
How to treat sleep apnea at home
Findings of the study are indicative of the fact that not only is it important to control blood sugar levels when suffering from diabetes, it is also important to take appropriate steps to keep sleep apnea under control. Following are some effective tips to treat sleep apnea:
1. Maintain a healthy weight: People who are overweight or obese at high risk of sleep apnea. It is thus important to maintain a healthy weight to prevent diabetic retinopathy and other risks associated with sleep apnea. For losing weight, you should restrict intake of refined carbs and avoid sugary foods and drinks. Exercise regularly to burn calories and lose weight.
2. Try a different sleep position: Altering your sleep position can not only reduce sleep apnea symptoms, it can also improve sleep quality. You can discuss your sleep position with your doctor to improve sleep apnea symptoms.
3. Quit alcohol and smoking: Not only are these habits dangerous for people with diabetes, they are also harmful for worsening sleep apnea symptoms. Alcohol is known to disrupt sleep quality and smoking is considered to be a risk factor of sleep apnea. Quit smoking and alcohol today for treating sleep apnea at home.
4. Try yoga and meditation: Yoga and meditation have been found to be effective for improving sleep quality. Not just yoga, but any other form of physical activity and exercise can contribute to better sleep quality and reduced symptoms of sleep apnea.
5. Try essential oils as humidifier: You can use some sleep-inducing essential oils as humidifier. Humidifiers are devices that add moisture to air. Dry air can irritate the body and respiratory system. Adding lavender, peppermint of eucalyptus essential oils to these humidifiers can offer additional anti-inflammatory and soothing benefits.
(With inputs from IANS)
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.
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