Eye Problems with CPAP for Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a very common sleep disorder. Many individuals all over the world suffer from this sleep disorder, and many of them do not seek medical help. This disease, although it is quite neglected, is a very serious problem that may cause a lot of health risks to the affected individual. Some of these include heart disorders, lung problems, seizures, and the usual symptoms of sleeping problems like sleepiness during the day, fatigue, irritability, incompetence, inability to work efficiently, and susceptibility to accidents.

A person who suffers from sleep apnea experiences the cessation of breath during sleep. When breathing stops, the event is called apnea. Apneic episodes may occur as often as twice per five minutes. When the body experiences apnea, it responds by subconsciously awakening and gasping for air. An individual may not even realize that he gasps for air during sleep, and will never know that he has sleep apnea unless he undergoes a sleep test where his sleeping behavior is observed and a diagnosis is made.

There are a lot of treatment methods available for sleep apnea, but the best and most common solution for the sleep problem is undergoing CPAP therapy. This form of therapy makes use of pressurized air that forcibly enters the airway to induce proper breathing cycles. The machines aids in the normal respiration of the individual, allowing him to breathe normally during sleep. This significantly improves his quality of sleep and his overall health.

Even though CPAP therapy is a very effective way of normalizing respiration for sleep apnea sufferers, like many other artificial forms of treatment, it poses many side effects that may cause inconvenience to the user. Some of these include oral irritability, headaches, nausea, dizziness, sore throat, dry mouth, nasal congestion, sinus inflammation, hypercapnia, aerophagia, and many others. But there are some people who reported that they experienced a different side effect from CPAP therapy, and it affects their eyes.

Some CPAP users said that they woke up with red eyes, while others with swollen eyelids. Some people experience dry eyes, others moist eyes, and others even feel the air coming out of their tear ducts and directly blowing into their eyes. There are several explanations for these side effects, but they are certainly inconvenient and very uncomfortable.

Red and swollen eyes may be caused by the excessive tightness of the CPAP mask on the face. Dry eyes, on the other hand, may be caused by the looseness of the CPAP mask. Therefore, the fit and seal of the mask on the face should properly be established, or else side effects like these will become inevitable. Other cases, when the pressure of the air is too high, it tends to pass through the tear ducts and into the eyes. This results to the condition called floppy eye syndrome. The pressure of the machine should then be adjusted to fit the patient properly. Conjunctivitis may also occur to CPAP users. In such case, an eye doctor should immediately be visited.

Since you can’t abandon CPAP therapy because it is essential for you to be able to sleep properly, the treatment application should be towards the eye problem, and not the CPAP therapy. Some solutions that can be used to prevent or treat eye problems like these include the use of eye drops, using eye patches, and ointments to relieve swelling and pain. However, the best solution that can be done is to consult a medical professional, most preferably an eye doctor, in order to receive the best and most appropriate treatment for any eye problems related to CPAP therapy. You might also want to relay the problem to your sleep apnea doctor so that he may advice you on how to wear your mask properly, and even prescribe you a better fitting mask to prevent any more eye problems in the future.