Relationship Between Glaucoma and Poor Sleep

A senior woman holds her head in discomfort

More than 3 million Americans have glaucoma, most of whom are over the age of 40. This condition is generally associated with deteriorating vision, but a recent study has revealed that there may be more to the disorder than originally met the eye. In a study of around 6,800 people, the responses of participants showed that glaucoma may also be linked to sleep problems.

Defining “Sleeping Problems”

There were several common problems associated with patients who had glaucoma, including the ability to fall asleep, the ability to stay asleep, and general tiredness during the day.

While these symptoms are common even among people without glaucoma, the study indicated that those with glaucoma were more likely to struggle with sleep. In fact, a person with glaucoma was twice as likely to need more than a half-hour to fall asleep whereas those without glaucoma needed only 10 to 29 minutes to fall asleep.

The Long-Term Consequences of Sleeping Problems

Sleep disturbances and insomnia can cause a myriad of uncomfortable conditions—from drowsiness and depression to a loss of mental faculties, sight, and memory. In the new study, people who had difficulty remembering things were twice as likely to experience a loss in their field of vision than those who had no memory problems.

This study is not the first to suggest that glaucoma and sleeping problems share a connection. The authors of the study could not confirm a causal relationship, but they could confirm that healthy sleep has a powerful effect on a person’s overall health.

Reduce Your Risk of Glaucoma

Although glaucoma is most common in people over the age of 40, this disease can affect you at any age. In some cases, glaucoma is an unavoidable genetic condition. However, you are more likely to develop glaucoma if you suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure. You may also be more likely to develop this disease if you’re taking steroids or drugs containing sulfa.

While glaucoma can be a scary prospect for anyone, it’s crucial to stay on top of your health. Seeing a specialist means that you’ll be diagnosed as early as possible.

Glaucoma Treatment Options

Many patients are more likely to notice a change in their sleep cycle before they notice an impact on their vision, but these two factors are not mutually exclusive. Because glaucoma can be present and asymptomatic for years, it’s important to schedule regular eye exams to monitor your eye health before your vision is affected. Whether you’re in the Palatka, Saint Augustine, or Jacksonville area, Florida Eye Specialists has eight locations to serve you. We also offer appointments via telemedicine.