Skip to main content
Read Our Safety Protocols
For Referring Physicians
Home »

Glaucoma

How Sleep Apnea Affects The Eyes

Did you know that Sleep Apnea are associated with eye conditions ? Sleep Apnea affects more than 18 million Americans, per the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder where people stop breathing — often several times each night — while they sleep.

If you have sleep apnea:

  • it tends to take longer for your tears to be replenished,
  • you’re more likely to have ocular irritation,
  • you have a higher chance of developing floppy eyelids, and
  • you are at increased risk for glaucoma.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

There are different types of sleep apnea. The most common one is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During OSA, the airway becomes partially blocked due to relaxed muscles in your nose and throat, and this causes the absence of breathing or hypopnea (abnormally shallow, slow breathing). It is twice as common in men, and is more likely to affect people with obesity, hypertension, diabetes or heart disease.

What are the common symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much to allow normal breathing. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s oxygen supply, which can lead to potentially serious health consequences.

While snoring is a common symptom, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Interrupted sleep can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability or depression, headaches in the morning, difficulty concentrating and thinking, and a sore throat.

Which Eye Conditions Are Associated With Sleep Apnea?

Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when increased pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, leading to vision loss and sometimes blindness. In some cases, it might be due to a drop in blood oxygen levels, which happens when you stop breathing. However, CPAP machines, one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea, can also cause glaucoma.

So, people with sleep apnea — even if it’s being treated — need to see their eye doctor frequently so they can be monitored for glaucoma.

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES) is an eye condition where a person has an unusually large and floppy upper eyelid. It can cause eye redness, irritation, discharge, or blurry vision — and over 90% of people with FES also have sleep apnea.

Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) is an eye condition that occurs when there is a loss of blood flow to the optic nerve. Patients typically complain of significant vision loss in one eye without any major pain. Approximately 70-80% of patients with NAION have been found to have OSA.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Also referred to as an ‘eye stroke,’ retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina. A recent study of 114 RVO patients found that sleep apnea was suspected in 74% of the patients that had previously been diagnosed with RVO.

Other Eye Health Issues Associated With Sleep Apnea

Some other ocular conditions that are more common in patients with sleep apnea include: papilledema, keratoconus, and central serous chorioretinopathy. Furthermore, in addition to glaucoma mentioned above, CPAP machines are associated with dry eye syndrome and bacterial conjunctivitis.

Talk To Your Eye Doctor

It is important to have a yearly eye examination to rule out eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss, especially if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. It is imporitatn to tell your doctor that you have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. In our office, Family Eye Care in Old Bridge we encourage you to share your medical history with us so we can better diagnose and treat any eye conditions or ocular diseases you may have, and help you keep your eyes nice and healthy.

What You Should Know About Night Blindness

If you don’t see well while driving at night, there’s a chance you have night blindness. Night blindness, or nyctalopia, is the inability to see well at night or in dim lighting. It’s not considered an eye disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying problem.  

Our eye doctor can help diagnose, manage and treat your night blindness so that you can enjoy being out at night again. 

Here are 4 things you should know about night blindness:

Causes of Night Blindness 

The inability to see well at night can be the result of a condition such as:

Vitamin A Deficiency — Vitamin A helps keep your cornea, the layer at the front of your eye, clear; it’s also an important component of rhodopsin, a protein that enables you to see in low light conditions. Although uncommon in North America, deficiency of this vitamin can induce night blindness. 

Cataracts — A buildup of protein clouds the eye’s lens, leading to impaired vision, especially at night and in poor lighting conditions.

Diabetic Retinopathy — Damage to the eyes’ blood vessels and nerves can result in vision loss, including difficulty seeing at night.  

Glaucoma — This group of eye diseases is associated with pressure build-up in the eye that damages the optic nerve. Both glaucoma and the medications used to treat it can cause night blindness. 

Myopia — Also called nearsightedness, myopia makes distant objects appear blurry, and patients with it describe a starburst effect around lights at night.

Keratoconus — An irregularly shaped cornea causes blurred vision and may involve sensitivity to light and glare which tend to be worse at night.

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) — A progressive genetic eye disease which can be associated with other diseases, RP leads to night blindness and peripheral vision loss.

Usher Syndrome — This genetic condition causes both hearing loss and vision loss, including night blindness and RP, mentioned above.

Symptoms of Nyctalopia

Since night blindness is a symptom of some serious vision problems, it’s important to get your eyes checked regularly to ensure that everything is in good working order. Contact your eye doctor as soon as possible if you notice that you don’t see as well in dim light as you used to, such as when driving at night or when adjusting from being outdoors in the sunshine to being indoors. 

Symptoms of Night Blindness Include:

  • Reduced contrast sensitivity
  • Difficulty seeing people outdoors at night
  • Difficulty seeing in places with dim lighting, like a movie theater
  • Trouble adapting to the dark while driving
  • Excessive squinting at night 
  • Trouble adjusting from bright areas to darker ones 

Treatments for Night Blindness

Your eye doctor will want to diagnose the cause of your night blindness in order to treat it. For example, in the rare case of vitamin A deficiency, it can be treated with vitamin supplements and vitamin-A rich foods; myopia can be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Other conditions may require medications or surgery. 

If night blindness is caused by a birth defect, Usher syndrome, or retinitis pigmentosa, low vision aids and devices can help you make the most of your remaining vision. 

Prevention

While there is no proven way to prevent night blindness resulting from genetic conditions or birth defects, consuming healthy, nourishing foods and taking certain vitamin supplements may prevent or slow the onset of some eye conditions that cause night blindness. 

If you experience poor vision at night or in dim lighting, we can help. Contact Family Eye Care in Old Bridge to schedule your appointment today. 

6 Common Myths About Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease that causes permanent vision loss and and even blindness. It is also called the ‘Sneak-Thief of Sight’ because we don’t feel glaucoma. We would like to help you better understand glaucoma and we want to separate fact from fiction.

Let’s start with a little anatomy lesson. The Retina is the special tissue in the back of the eye, and its job is to capture light and turn it to an electrical signal. The “wires” connect to form the Optic Nerve. The optic nerve sends the signal to the brain. There are many parts of the brain that the optic nerve connects to.

Glaucoma Facts vs. Myths

MYTH 1: Glaucoma is a single disease

FACT

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases; the most common ones are Open-Angle glaucoma (OAG) and Angle-Closure glaucoma (ACG).

Glaucoma is not cancer. When we say a “group” of diseases, it is somewhat similar to “cancer” because just like there are many forms of cancer, there are different types of glaucoma

In Open-Angle glaucoma, the drainage structure in your eye (called the trabecular meshwork) doesn’t allow the fluid inside the eye to flow out as it should. That causes an increase in internal ocular pressure that damages the optic nerve. Again, you don’t feel this extra pressure. Open Angle Glaucoma develops slowly. Usually by the time people are aware of it, they have lost their side vision (peripheral vision loss) because of the damage to the optic nerve

In Narrow-Angle Glaucoma, also known as Angle-Closure Glaucoma, the fluid in the eye does not drain out because the drainage channel between the iris and cornea is too narrow. This pressure damages the optic nerve, leading to vision loss. ACG can occur suddenly or gradually.

MYTH 2: Only the elderly suffer from glaucoma

FACT

Although it’s true that people over 60 are at a greater risk of developing open-angle glaucoma compared to people in their 40s, there are other types of glaucoma that can affect people aged 20 to 50 and even young infants.

In addition to age, those with a higher risk of developing glaucoma include:

  • African Americans and Hispanics
  • Individuals with a family history of glaucoma
  • Patients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or sickle cell anemia
  • Those who have previously sustained an eye injury
  • People taking steroid medications over the long term

MYTH 3: Glaucoma shows symptoms early on

FACT

The most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, has almost no signs or symptoms until its later stages when vision loss sets in. Higher eye pressure causes no pain. Glaucoma affects peripheral vision (side vision) is the beginning, so it is hard to notice these changes until someone is far into the disease. Nerve damage is permanent and is impossible to regain. The only way to detect glaucoma is to undergo a comprehensive eye exam.

MYTH 4: Nothing can be done once you have glaucoma

FACT

Similar to Diabetes and High Blood Pressure, Glaucoma is controlled but not cured. The first line treatment for glaucoma is eye drop medications, and at times, laser and surgical procedures. These treatment options reduce the pressure in the eye and decreasing damage to the optic nerve.

MYTH 5: Testing for glaucoma is painful

FACT

Actually, testing for glaucoma is practically painless. In our office we measure the Visual Field and use a special scan of the nerve, called an OCT (optical coherence tomography). Other tests are done to determine if treatment is needed or if monitoring is the best course of action.

MYTH 6: You can’t prevent glaucoma

FACT

The good news is that a yearly comprehensive eye exams can prevent glaucoma by early diagnosis and treatment. In our office, Family Eye Care in Old Bridge this is this is part of every examination. We would be happy to help you. Please consider calling our office to schedule for your comprehensive eye exam.

Does Obesity Impact Eye Health?

Awareness about the dangers of obesity is at an all-time high, with TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” and health initiatives such as Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!”. These highlight the importance of fitness and good nutrition. The relationship between obesity and high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes are well known. The damaging effects on eye health and vision may be less well known.

People who are clinically obese have an elevated risk of developing serious eye diseases; four major eye diseases that can cause blindness:

  • Macular Degeneration (AMD)
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic Retinopathy

How Does Obesity Contribute to Eye Disease?

A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 is considered overweight, and above 30 is regarded as obese. A high BMI is tied to several chronic systemic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, among others. Research indicates that a number of eye diseases can now be added to that list.

Serious eye conditions such as Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma, and Macular Degeneration are more common in individuals with obesity, as well as floppy eyelid syndrome, retinal vein occlusions, thyroid-related eye diseases, and stroke-related vision loss.

The connection between obesity and these eye diseases is likely due to the increased risk of peripheral artery disease. This occurs when the tiny blood vessels bringing oxygen to parts of your body like the feet, kidneys, and eyes become compromised.

Your eyes are particularly prone to damage from obesity because the blood vessels in the eyes (called arterioles) are easily blocked, since they’re extremely thin and small — as thin as ½ the width of a human hair!

Most people are not aware that obesity may increase the rate of developing cataracts, too. Cataracts are a clouding of the lens within the eye. In addition to age, cataracts develop with obesity, poor nutrition, gout, diabetes and high blood sugar levels.

A Healthy Lifestyle Can Reduce Your Risk of Ocular Disease

Knowing about the risk of vision loss may give those with a high BMI the extra motivational boost they need to lose weight. The good news is that a few lifestyle changes can reduce the associated risks.

An active lifestyle and a balanced, nutritious diet lower obesity and improve overall physical and eye health. Give your body a boost by incorporating important nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, zeaxanthin, omega 3, zinc, and lutein, many of which are found in green leafy and dark orange vegetables, as they have been shown to reduce the onset, progression, and severity of certain eye diseases.

We, at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge NJ, Can Help Keep Your Eyes Healthy

While a healthy diet and regular exercise greatly increase your chances of living a disease-free long life, they alone are not enough to ensure long term healthy eyesight. Regular eye exams in our office can help prevent or detect the onset of ocular disease, and maintain vision that is clear and comfortable.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vision or eye health, please call us at family eye Care in Old Bridge, NJ . We are here for you.