Skip to main content
Home »

sleep apnea

Is there a link between Keratoconus and Sleep Apnea?

If you’re sleepy during the day, you may attribute that to vision problems associated with keratoconus. But studies have found that people with keratoconus are at a higher rate of having Sleep Apnea than patients without keratoconus.

What is Keratoconus?

Having keratoconus means the cornea starts to thin and bulge into a cone shape. People with this eye disorder will often have decreased vision, blurry vision, and sensitivity to light and glare. This eye disorder generally worsens over time.

Those with a family history of keratoconus are at higher risk for developing it themselves. Individuals with Down syndrome, Marfan syndrome, or a congenital disorder are also known to develop Keratoconus. 

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

If you stop breathing involuntarily briefly while sleeping, you may have sleep apnea. This can happen hundreds of times during your sleep without waking you so you don’t even notice it.

There are three types of sleep apnea provided on the Sleep Foundation website:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): OSA occurs when the airway at the back of the throat becomes physically blocked. That obstruction causes temporary lapses in the breath.
  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): CSA happens because there is a problem with the brain’s system for controlling muscles involved in respiration, leading to slower and shallower breathing. This is a rare form of sleep apnea.
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea: When a person has both OSA and CSA at the same time, it is referred to as mixed sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects children and adults. Obesity, having a large neck, a family history, or excessive drug and alcohol use, can all lead to an increased risk of developing or having OSA. 

Research on Keratoconus and OSA

A 2018 study published in Cornea, found that “OSA was 10 to 20 times more prevalent among patients with KCN than the rate reported for the general population.”

This 2019 study reviewed five studies on the association between keratoconus and OSA and found there is a correlation.

Researchers aren’t entirely sure why there is a link between keratoconus and OSA, but multiple studies have found this to be the case. 

Do I have OSA?

Most studies use the Berlin Questionnaire to determine the risk level for sleep apnea. If you’re curious how you would score, you can take the Berlin Questionnaire here to see what your risk factor is. Of course, you should always seek a qualified medical diagnosis and treatment.

Patients with Keratoconus Should Speak to Their Doctor About OSA

If you have keratoconus, consider discussing sleep apnea with your primary care physician. 

Patients with keratoconus may attribute their sleepiness to their corneal disorder. Knowing they are at higher risk for having sleep apnea may allow them to seek a medical diagnosis sooner to receive treatment.

Do I have Keratoconus?

Early detection of keratoconus may give you more treatment options for managing this cornea condition. Our Albuquerque office specializes in keratoconus diagnosis and management and we have technology available that can help us detect keratoconus sooner than other eye care clinics. There is no cure for keratoconus but it can be managed and corneal crosslinking can slow the progression.

If there is a family history of keratoconus, or you’re experiencing poor or blurry vision, make an appointment with our eye doctors so we can create a treatment plan for you.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels