Duke Eye Center Links Obstructive Sleep Apnea to Keratoconus

Dr. Preeya Gupta

Research Digest

New & Noteworthy Journal Articles

Compiled by Andrew E. Mathis, PhD, Medical Editor

► Keratoconus and sleep apnea. Noting the sparseness of post-keratoplasty patients among their elderly patients, ophthalmologists Preeya Gupta, M.D., Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and Alan N. Carlson, M.D., Professor of Ophthalmology and Chief of the Corneal Service at the Duke Eye Center in Durham, NC, undertook a study to determine whether there was any correlation between keratoconus and mortality, looking specifically at sleep apnea as a primary symptom. They report their findings in the June 2012 issue of Cornea.

The authors conducted telephone interviews with 101 patients diagnosed with keratoconus over a 14-year period. Items specifically focusing on a diagnosis of sleep apnea were asked, as well as symptoms suggesting risk for sleep apnea for those patients without diagnoses.

Of the 101 patients enrolled in the study, 18 had previous diagnoses of obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed with sleep studies. Thirty-nine of the remaining 83 patients were determined to be at high risk for sleep apnea based on their responses to the questionnaire. Other common, potentially life-threatening comorbidities among the patients interviewed included high blood pressure (37%) and diabetes (20%). The mean BMI of the patients was 31.2, greater than the obesity cutoff of 30 (the median was 28.4 — overweight but not obese).

As the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea is only between 1% and 5%, the Duke study team concludes that sleep apnea is significantly more common in the population of keratoconus patients, suggesting that ophthalmologists include screening for sleep apnea in the workups of patients with keratoconus.

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