If you have sleep apnea, you will wake up frequently at night in order to keep breathing.

It can contribute to some serious conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and lead to other problems that might not seem related.

You may not even know you have sleep apnea, even though the disorder leads to excessive daytime sleepiness. In fact, your first clue might be a partner telling you that you snore excessively or make snorting and gasping sounds during the night.

Other symptoms of sleep apnea include :

  • waking up frequently during the night
  • Concentration problems while awake.
  • sore throat and dry mouth.

There are other symptoms that might not be considered, like dry eye syndrome.

What is dry eye?

Dry eye syndrome, or dry eye, is a common condition in which your eyes don’t make enough tears or don’t use the tears correctly. It can lead to blurred vision, burning, redness, or a feeling of grittiness in the eyes. Nearly 16 million Americans have it.

Studies have found that up to 50 percent of people with diagnosed sleep apnea have eye conditions, running the gamut from less serious conditions such as dry eye to more serious conditions such as glaucoma or impaired vision.

The researchers found that people with sleep apnea are more likely to have eye conditions.

If you are experiencing eye problems with symptoms of sleep apnea, it is a good idea to speak with a doctor.

There are several eye conditions associated with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes problems with your breathing and the circulation of blood and oxygen in your body, which affects all of your organs.

Sometimes, the devices used to treat your apnea, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, can also cause or worsen eye conditions.


Glaucoma is the name for a group of conditions that can damage your optic nerve, sometimes resulting in vision loss and blindness. The most common form, open-angle glaucoma, creates increased pressure on the optic nerve.

Your odds of developing glaucoma are higher if you have diabetes, are Black and over age 40, or are over age 60, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Research indicates that Black people are six to eight times more likely to develop this condition than white people, possibly due to genetics, and that people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma.

A review of studies found that the incidence of glaucoma was also higher in people with sleep apnea. The study authors recommend comprehensive glaucoma evaluation if you have sleep apnea.

Nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy

A painless loss of vision to one eye is caused by this condition. The brain and eye can communicate with the help of the optic nerve.

Studies have shown that people with sleep apnea are more likely to develop the condition.

Not using a CPAP machine can also worsen the effects, leading to the involvement of the second eye, according to a recent study.

Central serous chorioretinopathy

Central serous chorioretinopathy is caused by fluid leaking from a layer of tissue under the retina, the cells in the back part of your eye that translate light into signals your brain can understand. The fluid leakage can cause you to have a dim or distorted area of sight in the center of your vision.

Some research has found a higher incidence of this condition among people with sleep apnea, while other studies haven’t found a correlation. More research is needed.

Retinal vein occlusion

Retinal vein occlusion is a blockage in one of the veins that supplies blood to the retina. It can cause you to have blurred or loss of vision, usually in just one eye, that remains or gets worse over time.

In a small 2021 study and in a 2018 study, there was an increased incidence of sleep apnea among people who also had retinal vein occlusion diagnosed.


Papilledema is a condition in which your optic nerve swells, usually due to pressure in your brain.

“It can cause short-term changes to your vision, such as blurriness and double vision, that can lead to permanent vision loss if the underlying cause isn’t treated. Sleep apnea can cause phalledema.”

Floppy eyelid syndrome

“Floppy eyelid syndrome causes eye irritation and can be easily turned inside out. Researchers aren’t sure why it’s associated with sleep apnea”

If you have floppy eyelid syndrome, you can treat it by lubricating your eyes, wearing an eye shield at night, and avoiding sleeping on the affected eye.

“If symptoms don’t improve after long-term use of CPAP, eyelid surgery is an option.”

If you use a machine to treat sleep apnea, you may lose your sight. The devices pump air into a mask.

“The air from the devices can leak from a mask that doesn’t fit quite right, causing the air to rush toward your eyes and dry them out.”

A 2020 study found that the incidence of dry eye was higher in CPAP and nasal mask therapy device users, especially in those who were female, older than 50, or had metabolic or inflammatory conditions.

A 2021 review of studies also found that the use of noninvasive ventilation machines such as CPAP machines increased the incidence of dry eye but that the health benefits far outweigh the risk of the serious health conditions associated with untreated sleep apnea.

There are many things you can do to help with dry eye.

Current treatments for dry eye symptoms include lifestyle changes, over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription artificial tears, and topicals and oral medications.

The first step to management is to diagnose and treat the underlying cause.

At-home care

There are some things to try at home.

  • Artificial tears were applied several times a day.
  • eyelid cleanser
  • Staying hydrated.
  • blinking
  • When they are tired, resting your eyes.
  • wearing sunglasses

Medical treatment

“A doctor may recommend more things if they don’t help enough.”

Sleep apnea can lead to a number of serious health problems. It is correlated with disorders that can affect vision.

If you think you have sleep apnea, it is important to get a diagnosis so that you can treat the underlying cause and any related eye disorders.

If you’ve received a diagnosis of sleep apnea, it’s also recommended that you get a full evaluation from an ophthalmologist, a specialist in medical and surgical eye treatment who can diagnose any vision problems and treat them early.

There are many questions about the connection between sleep and dry eye.

Can sleep apnea affect your eyes?

Yes. Sleep apnea can cause your eyes to become dry. Changes to your cardiovascular system and the blood vessels and veins that supply blood and oxygen to your eyes can cause or worsen some serious eye conditions.

Can a CPAP machine cause dry eye?

CPAP machines can also make your eyes drier, but there are ways to treat the dryness, such as OTC and Eye drops., a properly fitting mask, and eye shields. It’s important to keep using CPAP machines because they’re effective for treating sleep apnea.

How can you tell if you have sleep apnea?

Some symptoms are common.

  • waking up frequently during the night
  • waking up to urinate.
  • snorting, gasping, or snoring while sleeping
  • excessive daytime sleepiness

Sleep apnea can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. It can cause irritation, dry eye, and other eye conditions.

Sleep sufferers with sleep apnea who use breathing devices at home to help them sleep are more likely to have dry eye.

You can treat eye irritation and dry eye at home with OTC or Eye drops., lifestyle changes, and changes to your CPAP mask to make it airtight. A doctor can also prescribe Antibiotics oral., eye inserts, or other interventions.

If you think you have sleep apnea, it is important to see a healthcare team as soon as possible so you can begin treatment and reduce your chances of more serious eye conditions that can threaten your vision.