SLEEP APNEA AND MACULAR DEGENERATION By Dr. Martha Jay, Ophthalmologist with offices in Mequon & Saukville, Wisconsin

By user-admin
February 20, 2017

While it has long been known that there is an association between smoking and “wet” macular degeneration, it now appears that there is also a link between sleep apnea and macular degeneration. Presumably the mechanism is the same: decreased oxygen reaching the delicate retinal tissues in the back of the eye. The result is blurred or distorted central vision.

The study was reported in the British Journal of Ophthalmology last month. They followed almost 70,000 patients who were hospitalized in England between 1999 and 2011. The two eye problems they looked at were glaucoma and macular degeneration. While they found no increased risk for developing glaucoma in those with sleep apnea, they did find a 44% increased risk for developing macular degeneration. The glaucoma finding is somewhat surprising as a previous study in Japan did find that sleep apnea was associated with glaucoma.

There is a tendency to think of each part of your body as independent but they all work in consort. For healthy eyes you also need well controlled blood pressure and blood sugars. A healthy heart and lungs are critical as well. Being overweight is a main risk factor for sleep apnea but this is also associated with diabetes and high blood pressure.

What to do? See your doctor regularly and follow their instructions. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of leafy green vegetables and cut back of meat and carbohydrates. Exercise regularly, watch your weight. Be sure you take your medications as directed. Hate that C-Pap machine for sleep apnea? Talk to your doctor about modifications in the mask or other ways to give you the good night’s sleep you deserve and your retina the full dose of oxygen it requires. More questions? We’re here to help.

Dr. Martha F. Jay

Martha F. Jay, Ph.D., M.D.

Dr. Martha Jay is a Board Certified Ophthalmologist with offices in Mequon & Saukville, Wisconsin specializing in medical and surgical eye care such as small incision cataract surgery and blade-free LASIK vision correction.

For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit

Dr. Martha Jay's Blogs, General Eye Care, Medical and Surgical Eye Care, Our Doctor's Blogs


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