CPAP Improves Sight In Diabetics

Wed, Jul 18, 2012

CPAP therapy may offer an extraordinary extra benefit for diabetes sufferers.  According to a recent report, CPAP treatment (normally used to treat obstructive sleep apnoea) could also help improve vision in the thousands of people with diabetes.

Sight related conditions are common in diabetics, with 40% of type 1 diabetics and 20% of type 2 diabetics have some degree of retinopathy (i.e., damaged blood vessels in the retina of the eye).

The cells of the retina need a constant supply of blood, but the high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can leave blood vessels blocked or leaking.  In severe cases, this can lead to blindness.

Scientists have now discovered CPAP therapy may provide some of the answer.  CPAP (constant positive airway pressurisation) is normally used to treat people with obstructive sleep apnoea.  This is a condition where the person’s upper airway collapses and stops the person from breathing.  CPAP introduces gently pressurised air into the patient’s airway while they sleep, to ensure the airway stays open.

A small trial has found that the use of CPAP improves eyesight in patients with diabetic retinopathy after just six months of use.

In the study, conducted at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, 35 patients with diabetic retinopathy were given the treatment.  In all cases, their vision improved significantly.

The devices were used every night for varying time periods, with the best results seen in those who wore it for more than two-and-a-half hours.

It’s thought the mask boosts oxygen levels in the blood which, in turn, helps reduce blood pressure.  High blood pressure is known to accelerate the damage to the delicate blood vessels in the eye, as well as other parts of the body.

It has long been known that diabetics are more likely to suffer from sleep apnoea compared to healthy people.  This new research might partly explain the sight problems linked to diabetes,  raising the suggestion that diabetics who regularly snore may be at increased risk of eye damage.

Commenting on the research, Professor Glen Jeffery of the Institute of Ophthalmology, says: ‘This is a potentially important finding.  Although, initially, the results seems slightly surprising, the scientific rationale behind it makes sense.  ‘The study targets problems in the eye, but in the long run it would be interesting to see if it impacts on other problems that diabetics have.  There are potentially big advantages if this is effective.’

'It is not centred around expensive drug therapy and, hence, it may reduce the very heavy economic and social burden of diabetes.  Plus it may also allow the patient’s partner to get a better night’s sleep.’

The full article can be found here:

If you suffer from diabetes and snore, or if you suffer or suspect you suffer from sleep apnoea, you need a diagnostic sleep study (polysomnogram) as quickly as possible.  Call us today on 07) 3218 2127 to chat with a friendly sleep therapist, or click on the button below to make an online enquiry.


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