Apr 21, 2019 | Updated: 07:00 AM EDT

Type 2 Diabetes Patients Who Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea Could Face Blindness Within Four Years

Jul 07, 2017 07:01 AM EDT

Registered nurse Susan Eager (R) teaches a diabetic patient how to draw her own insulin injections during a house call on March 26, 2012 in Denver, Colorado
(Photo : John Moore/Getty Images)

A new research has unveiled that Type 2 diabetes patients who have sleep apnea could lose their eyesight. Blindness can occur to them within an average period of four years.

The University of Birmingham led important research study which explores essential outcome for the people who experience Type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnea simultaneously. The study says that the people can develop a crucial condition that can cause blindness. The OSA or the obstructive sleep apnoea is a specific condition when the throat walls relax and at the same time narrow. The condition produces interrupting breathing and snoring, and these are common for the Type 2 diabetes patients.

Now one important fact 40 to 50 percent diabetic patients belong to the Western world face a common eye disease, diabetic retinopathy. This eye disease is also responsible for blindness. Earlier studies suggested a relation between the diabetic retinopathy and the OSA. Interestingly, no previously published study assessed the development of diabetic retinopathy by OSA in the Type 2 diabetes patients.

The recent research study first unveils this fact. The study is currently available in the popular American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The corresponding author of the study, Doctor Abd Tahrani, revealed that diabetic retinopathy is common even after improvements in blood pressure, lipid levels, and glucose. He opines that OSA is a common problem in persons who are the victims of Type 2 diabetes. Excess weight leads to develop both the said conditions.

The majority of the people with the OSA don't even know that they are the victims of the said condition and disease. Most of the times they are left undiagnosed for many years. The recent research study for the first time analyzed the impacts of the OSA on the eye disease, diabetic retinopathy. The study showed Type 2 diabetes patients with OSA were more prone to diabetic retinopathy than the Type 2 diabetes patients without OSA.

Doctor Abd Tahrani reported that Type 2 diabetes patients with OSA bear a greater risk of advanced diabetic retinopathy than those who only have diabetes. They develop this risk within an average period of only three years and seven months. The study was conducted among 230 patients who were suffering from Type 2 diabetes.

The research study was successfully carried out in two important diabetes clinics that are situated in the Midlands hospitals. The research study didn't include those people who already have the OSA or suffering from any respiratory condition. The diabetic retinopathy was assessed applying the specialist retinal imaging and OSA assessment was done using the portable cardio-respiratory device. So it is quite clear that assessment for both the problems is necessary for the patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes.

The outcome of the study revealed that people with OSA had a higher prevalence of diabetic retinopathy (42.9%) compared to the people without OSA (24.1%). The follow-up appointment that occurred on average 43 months after the test showed a significant result. The test unveiled OSA patients were more prone to develop the diabetic retinopathy (18.4%) from moderate to severe compared to the people without OSA (6.1%). However, the research also revealed that Type 2 diabetes patients with OSA would face a lower risk of the advanced diabetic retinopathy.

The findings of the study are very important because they can help to explore new treatments for the diabetic retinopathy. After the outcome of the research, clinicians now can take proper preventive measures while treating the patients with OSA and Type 2 diabetes. No doubt testing for OSA is essential because it is very common in Type 2 diabetes patients.

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