A new study has warned that poor sleep could cause irreversible damage to the eyes, leading to vision loss due to glaucoma.
Chinese researchers have said that too much sleep or too little of it, daytime sleepiness, insomnia and even snoring are all things that can increase the chances of developing glaucoma.
Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness, is a common eye disease where the optic nerve is damaged. Since the optic nerve connects the brain with the eye, a damaged nerve can cause complete blindness if not treated timely.
Experts believe that the condition will affect nearly 112 million across the world by 2040.
Researchers in China studies 409,053 people, extracting data from the UK Biobank. The sample was aged between 40 and 69 when they were recruited between 2006 and 2010. All respondents have shared details about their sleeping behaviours.
Apart from their sleeping pattern, the team used each respondent’s background information like their age, sex, weight, lifestyle, education, and socioeconomic status.
The participants of the study were monitored for over 10 years and researchers identified 8,690 cases of glaucoma.
Most of the patients were of older age and male. Glaucoma’s relationship with smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes were also established.
The findings published in the journal BMJ Open showed that sleep disturbances increased the risk of glaucoma.
People who slept less than seven hours or more than nine hours were found to be 8% more likely to suffer from the disease. Snorers were found to be at a 4% higher risk and those who slept during the day showed a 20% higher chance.
One of the key factors scientists found was the pressure put on the eyes while sleeping. Lying down for longer periods of time can cause glaucoma. Similarly, in the case of insomnia, sleep hormones are disturbed which can negatively impact the eyes. Other conditions that usually exist with insomnia like depression and anxiety can also cause internal eye pressure.
Insufficient oxygen due to snoring or sleep apnea can too damage the optic nerve.
“As sleep behaviours are modifiable, these findings underscore the necessity of sleep intervention for individuals at high risk of glaucoma and potential ophthalmologic screening among individuals with chronic sleep problems to help prevent glaucoma,” the authors said in a media release.