In today’s fast paced society, we are all familiar with a bad night’s sleep. The occasional droopy, puffy eyes and dark circles seem to be an almost unavoidable part of adult life. But what a lot of people might not realise is that a lack of sleep does not only affect the appearance of the eye but it can also impact your vision and general eye health.
How does lack of sleep affect your vision?
It is said that most adults should aim to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night, during this time the eyes need to rest and repair in order to function properly the next day. However, according to a study by Start Sleeping, over 30% of adults sleep for 6 hours or less per night meaning that, lack of sleep can be a factor in declining eye health. Without adequate rest, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Difficulty focusing
- Double vision
- Dry eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Eyelid twitching
- Red eyes
These side effects can vary in severity and lead to much more serious problems such as vision loss and glaucoma.
Not only is lack of sleep a leading factor in declining eye health, but sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea can also have a serious effect on your eyes wellbeing.
Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder that affects up to 9% of adults, and is where breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep, causing a lack of oxygen to the brain. This constant lack of oxygen, causes significant stress and strain to the blood vessels inside the eye. Over time, these blood vessels can swell and become damaged leading to a detrimental effect to your vision and overall eye health.
Studies also show that sleep apnoea is a leading risk factor in developing the eye disease glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a condition where the eye’s optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes impaired. This can be due to a build-up of pressure within the eye and if left untreated, it can cause full or partial blindness. When it comes to glaucoma, early detection is imperative to saving your sight but once diagnosed there are a range of treatment options available. These can vary from medication, to surgical techniques that both try to release the pressure in your eye to a safer level. Glaucoma is just one of the many ways that not getting enough sleep can eventually lead to vision loss.
Tips for a better sleep
After learning how a lack of sleep can have a lasting harmful impact on your eye health, it is clear that one of the best way to improve this and avoid vision loss, is to sleep better and for longer. For some, this may seem impossible, but it can be done by implementing some new routines into your daily life, such as:
- Avoiding caffeine 4 hours before bedtime
- Turn your bedroom into a cool, dark environment
- Take some time to actually relax before sleeping
- Avoid technology when you’re in bed
- Exercise a few hours before bedtime
If you feel you may be suffering from any of the above symptoms or disorders, you should contact your local Optical Express optometrist who will be able to provide advice and information on maintaining better eye health.