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Sleep Apnea In Diabetics Linked To Eye Disease

New research from Taiwan shows that severe sleep apnea is a risk factor for developing diabetic macular edema, a complication of diabetes that can cause vision loss or blindness. 

Diabetic macular edema was also more difficult to treat in patients with severe sleep apnea. While earlier research showed a weak connection between the two conditions, evidence is mounting that sleep apnea exacerbates underlying eye disease. The researchers present their study today at AAO 2019, the 123rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

When people with diabetes have poor control over their blood sugar levels, the tiny blood vessels at the back of the eye can become damaged. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy and it's a leading cause of blindness in the United States.

Sometimes, tiny bulges protrude from the blood vessels, leaking fluid and blood into the retina. This fluid can cause swelling or edema in an area of the retina that allows us to see clearly.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts, disrupting sleep and causing blood oxygen levels to drop. This drop in oxygen appears to unleash a host of changes in the body that may play a role in injuring blood vessels. People with sleep apnea are at risk of developing hypertension, heart attacks, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

But what about the eyes? Researchers believe that sleep apnea may contribute to the development and worsening of diabetic retinopathy by increasing insulin resistance, elevating inflammation and raising blood pressure, all of which can damage the blood vessels at the back of the eye.

To learn more, lead researcher Juifan Chiang, MD, and colleagues looked at data from all patients diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy over an 8-year period at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan. They found that the rate of severe sleep apnea was significantly higher in patients with diabetic macular edema compared with those without diabetic macular edema (80.6 percent vs. 45.5 percent). They also found that the worse their sleep apnea was, the worse their macular edema. Severe sleep apnea was also more prevalent in patients who needed more treatment to control their macular edema. These patients required three or more treatments of medical or laser therapy.

"Based on these results, we hope that more medical professionals will approach sleep apnea as a risk factor for diabetic macular edema," Dr. Chiang said. "This could allow for earlier medical intervention so patients can keep more of their vision and preserve their overall health as much as possible."

Original article by Medical Xpress

Pedagogy offers several diabetics continuing education courses in an online format. These courses are written by author Maureen Sullivan. Maureen has over 25 years in Emergency and Trauma nursing, including nursing positions as the Emergency Department Manager, Director of Staff Education, Trauma Coordinator, and Stroke Program Manager. In addition, she has also been certified as both a BLS and ACLS instructor, and adjunct faculty for an LPN nursing program. Maureen has also written nursing articles for the following journals: Nursing Spectrum, ADVANCE nursing magazine, and The Journal of Emergency Care, Rescue, and Transportation.  Her expertise is in diabetes education, stroke education and prevention, and all aspects of emergency medicine.

Maureen has written multiple continuing education courses on diabetes as well as other healthcare topics:

Diabetes: An Introduction
Diabetes Management and Insulin Pumps
Diabetes Management and Insulin Pumps for School Nurses
Diabetes: An Introduction for Administrators
Human Trafficking
Management of Norovirus Gastroenteritis in Healthcare Settings

Mangement of Norovirus Gastroenteritits in Post Acute Care Settings
OSHA Hazard Communication
Stroke Management: Advanced
Stroke: An Introduction
Stroke: An Introduction for Administrators


You may see all of the online continuing nurse education offered by Pedagogy by clicking View Entire Catalog.   

Memberships are also available to institutions that would like to provide a library of education to their staff. See Memberships for more information and to request pricing.  


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