Thinning of retinal nerve fiber layer linked to obstructive sleep apnea:Study

Thinning of retinal nerve fiber layer linked to obstructive sleep apnea:Study

The severity of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be associated with the thinning of the superotemporal retinal nerve fibre layer, found recent research published in the Journal of Glaucoma.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Ophthalmology and Visual Science and the Lions Eye Institute explored the differences in optic disc measurements to evaluate for any preclinical glaucomatous changes in relation to obstructive sleep apnea status and severity.

The researchers examined data from participants of an at-home sleep study (n = 865; 45% men) where apnea-hypopnea index [AHI] and sleep oxygen saturation levels were measured. The participants’ OSA status ranged from AHI with less than 5 events per hour to more than 30 events per hour.

At a 6-year follow-up visit, the optic discs of participants were imaged using spectral-domain Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) to measure the Bruch membrane opening minimum rim widths and RNFL thickness, investigators wrote.

They identified that on the basis of AHI, 48% of participants had OSA, with 11% of that population receiving a diagnosis of moderate OSA. Also, within the group with OSA, 3% had severe OSA.

Participants with severe OSA had thinner RNFL superotemporally compared with participants without OSA or with mild OSA, (P < .001 for both), noted the team. Superotemporal RNFL was also inversely associated with AHI (P = .004) and a sleep time with oxygen saturation level less than 90% (P = .005), they said.