SAN FRANCISCO– 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. 

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