Research suggests that glaucoma, the leading cause of blindness, could affect 112 million people around the world over the next 20 years. This is because people who have very short sleep durations, are sleepy during the day, and snore.
Sky News says that glaucoma is marked by the loss of light-sensitive cells in the eye and damage to the optic nerve. If the disease is not treated, this can lead to a gradual loss of vision. A study that was published in the journal BMJ Open found a number of signs that poor sleep and glaucoma are linked.
First, the eye's internal pressure, which is the main cause of the disease, goes up when a person lies down or when their sleep hormones aren't working right.
Depression and anxiety, which often go along with not getting enough sleep, can also make this pressure worse because they can make it harder to control how much cortisol, the main stress hormone in the body, is released.
Sleep apnea, in which breathing stops and starts during sleep, can cause low oxygen levels in cells that can last for a long time or happen more than once. This can damage the important optic nerve.
People between 50 and 69 years old were chosen for the study between 2006 and 2010. There were also people there who called themselves "Midnighters." They had trouble sleeping, fell asleep during the day, and snored a lot.
During an average of 10.5 years of observation, 8,690 cases of glaucoma were found among 409,000 participants.
People who slept less or more than usual were 8% more likely to get glaucoma, people with insomnia were 12% more likely to get glaucoma, and people who often slept during the day were 20% more likely to get glaucoma. The risk was 4 percent for people who snore a lot.
Researchers say that these results show that people who are at high risk for the disease and need to have their eyes checked for early signs of glaucoma should get sleep therapy.