Sleep apnea and strabismus

sleeping eyeSleep apnea makes it much harder to control strabismus. If you feel tired most of the time, if you awaken frequently during the night, or if you don’t wake up refreshed, consider the possibility of sleep apnea.

I began to notice a mild sleep apnea at least 3 years ago. I would wake up unable to get my breath when sleeping on my back. That was easily solved by sleeping on my sides. But about a year ago, I began to notice that I sometimes woke up on my sides also. This year (since January) it began getting a lot worse, and in May I had a sleep study which showed a fairly severe sleep apnea.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, start keeping a journal of what time you go to bed and what time you go to sleep. Look at the clock each time you awaken, and try to remember the times. Try to keep up with approximately what time you drift back to sleep, how well you rest through the night, and how many hours of total sleep you got. Record this information the next morning. Do this for two weeks. I was amazed when I had to do this before my sleep study. I knew I woke up a time or two each night. But when I started monitoring it, I realized that I woke up lot more, stayed awake longer, slept fewer total hours, and slept more restlessly than I would have ever known without the journal.

Of course there are things other than sleep apnea that can interfere with sleep. But if you are not able to sleep well, you need to see a physician to help you determine why. Since I’ve been on CPAP, I sleep through most nights, awakening an average of maybe 2 to 3 times a week.

Some people have trouble tolerating the CPAP for one reason or another. My sleep apnea is related to a car accident which crushed my jaw when I was 18, and my jaw has gradually receded backward toward my throat, compromising my trachea (windpipe). The CPAP mask tends to push my jaw back even more, and while I breath fine now at night when on CPAP, I am noticing more shortness of breath during the daytime. My doctor is making an oral splint for me to wear at night to stabilize my jaw, and we are hoping this will help the daytime shortness of breath as well.

If you have sleep apnea, do your best to find a way to comply with whatever therapy is offered. It will make a big difference in helping you function better with strabismus. Sometimes surgery is the recommended method to treat sleep apnea. In fact that is recommended for me — bilateral mandibular joint replacements. But I recently lost my job related to these health issues, and along with my job went my health insurance. The mandibular surgery is a very expensive surgery, so I can’t do it now. However, now that I’ve seen how much better things are with CPAP, I will do everything within my reach to be able to stay on CPAP at night and breathe during the day as well!

Photo Credit: Carolina Foloni

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