Sleep Apnea, Concussion and Vision

Dr. Russel Lazarus, June 9, 2021
sleep-apnea

In a recent study of people with post-concussion syndrome,  78% were diagnosed with sleep apnea.

So, what came first — the concussion or sleep apnea? Determining the answer can be difficult.

What we do know is that there is a connection between a concussion and sleep apnea, no matter which one came first.

Sleep apnea affects the recovery from a concussion, and it can also be a result of a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

You may be wondering  how this is all related to vision. In this article we will explain all the connections.

Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor near you who can diagnose and treat your vision problems related to concussion and sleep apnea.

Find an eye doctor near you

Sleep apnea and concussions

Recovery from a concussion, which is a form of traumatic brain injury, requires sleep.

People who have sustained a TBI need a good night’s sleep in order to recover quickly and fully. A bad night’s sleep can cause cognitive loss, impaired decision-making, and depressive symptoms, all of which can slow down the recovery process.

Sleep apnea reduces oxygen and blood flow to the brain, making it difficult for people who have sustained a concussion to recover.

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of sleep apnea, is caused by a blockage or physical collapse of the upper airway that interrupts breathing during sleep.

Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is caused by a dysfunction in the part of the brain that controls breathing and sleep, which may be impaired by a TBI.

Sleep apnea and vision

We all know getting a good night’s sleep is important for good health. There are a variety of eye conditions that are exacerbated by poor sleep patterns and therefore can be associated with sleep apnea.

These include:

  • Glaucoma
  • Papilledema
  • Retinal conditions
  • Floppy eyelid syndrome
  • Swelling of the optic nerve
  • Anterior ischemic optic neuropathy

Getting your eyes checked regularly is important because it allows your eye doctor to rule out any eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss, especially if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor near you who can diagnose and manage any eye problems you may have.

Concussions and vision

Concussions may have a huge effect on the visual system’s functionality. After a concussion, post-trauma vision syndrome is a group of symptoms that include dizziness, blurred vision and eye coordination problems.

Post-trauma vision syndrome symptoms can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Headaches
  • Focusing problems
  • Problems with stride and walking

Severe concussions can cause double vision and blindness, while mild concussions can affect vision and cause visual dysfunction.

After a concussion, you can develop sleep apnea, which may affect not only the recovery process but also your vision. Sleep apnea and concussions can lead to severe eye conditions and symptoms that impair your vision and eye health.

Neuro-optometrists can help

Neuro-optometrists can help post-TBI. Neuro-optometry deals with how the visual system impacts daily functioning. By training the brain to control and communicate with the eyes more effectively, symptoms like dizziness and headaches can be significantly decreased or disappear altogether.

If you have experienced a concussion or suspect you may have sleep apnea, contact a vision therapy eye doctor near you to follow up on a diagnosis and treatment for any vision problems.