Could Keratoconus be Linked to Sleep Apnea?

Could Keratoconus be Linked to Sleep Apnea?

What exactly is Keratoconus?

A large new study reveals previously unknown risk factors associated with an eye condition that causes serious progressive nearsightedness at a relatively young age.

The findings, made through the largest-ever clinical study of the condition called keratoconus, could help more people receive newer treatments that can slow the problem and protect their vision.

Keratoconus makes the rounded, clear covering of the eye, called the cornea, weak, which leads it to become cone-shaped over time. The last decade has brought new treatment options, but many people don’t receive a diagnosis early enough to take full advantage of them.

The new study shows that men, African-Americans and Latinos, and people with asthma, sleep apnea, or Down syndrome, have much higher odds of developing keratoconus. But females, Asian-Americans, and people with diabetes appear to have a lower risk, the analysis shows.

The findings, made by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System’s Kellogg Eye Center and the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, are published online ahead of print in the journal Ophthalmology.

The research was sparked by questions whether changes to the eye with keratoconus affect other parts of the body. Studying eye conditions’ associations with other health conditions is easier now because of vast data troves.

“Eye health relates to total body health, and we as ophthalmologists need to be aware of more than just eyeballs when we see patients,” says Maria Woodward, MD, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the U-M Medical School and first author of the study, in a release.

Patients with keratoconus and their families, as well as physicians, should be aware of other potential health problems uncovered in the study, the authors say.

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