Sleep Disorders and Keratoconus

An inability to fall asleep for hours is one type of sleep disorder, but some others are just as common. Nearly 30 percent of all adults have ongoing symptoms of insomnia. If you have keratoconus and experience eye pain, a sleep disorder can easily develop. This is just one of the numerous reasons that acquiring treatment for your keratoconus-linked cornea pain is advisable. The following describes different types of sleep disorders, and why keratoconus can cause symptoms (unrelated to the customary eyesight deficits) that can lead to a sleep disorder.

Three Different Types of Insomnia

Along with obstructive sleep apnea (usually caused by intermittent blockage of the upper airway or a neurological disorder), insomnia as a sleep disorder is categorized into three different types. These are:

  • Difficulty falling asleep;
  • Difficulty remaining asleep throughout the night;
  • Waking up too early in the morning (i.e., not having obtained enough sleep before awakening)

The elongation of the cornea featured in keratoconus often progresses over time, and causes the corneal fibers to weaken. This weakening of the corneal fibers is the foremost reason that some keratoconus-afflicted people experience “dry eyes” and/or cornea pain. While the most typical symptoms of keratoconus are vision-related (e.g., nearsightedness and astigmatism), treatments such as minimally-invasive surgeries may be recommended to reduce chronic cornea pain.

Health Impact of Chronic Sleep Disorders

Impaired cognition is a well-recognized negative consequence of chronic sleep disorders, and workplace performance can be affected by a lessened capacity for memorization and problem-solving. According to a research article in 2017 in Nature and Science of Sleep, the potential long-term consequences of sleep disorders in otherwise healthy people are an increased risk for hypertension, weight-related issues, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome, and early dementia. A heightened risk for accidents and injury is also associated with chronically-impaired sleep.

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Cornea Pain and Contact Lenses

You may already be aware that Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses are the usual type of contact lens prescribed to correct vision in a keratoconus-afflicted person. This is because traditional “soft” contact lenses do not correct astigmatism (which usually occurs in tandem with nearsightedness in people living with keratoconus). RGP contact lenses – often called “hard” contact lenses – may be able to correct your vision to 20/20, but still be uncomfortable to wear if you have cornea pain.

While scleral contact lenses that rest on the sclera of the eye rather than the cornea are another option for improving eyesight, these contact lenses may be difficult for people to correctly-insert and remove if uncontrollable hand tremors exist, and/or if the person is bothered by the appearance of these larger-sized contact lenses.

Intra-Corneal Ring Segments (ICRS) and Corneal Cross-Linking

The minimally-invasive surgery in which intra-corneal ring segments (ICRS) are inserted is usually performed to improve vision in keratoconus-afflicted people with severely-progressive vision loss. Meanwhile, corneal-collagen cross-linking (as a minimally-invasive surgery) is typically performed in keratoconus-afflicted people to strengthen the corneal fibers in order to halt keratoconus progression.

A research article in 2019 in World Journal of Ophthalmology and Vision Research reported that combined (or sequential) surgical procedures of ICRS and corneal cross-linking were especially effective in keratoconus-afflicted people in preserving vision and halting keratoconus progression – and, therefore, an excellent alternative for keratoconus-afflicted people intolerant of contact lens use.

The professionals of the Precision Keratoconus Center can help you understand your keratoconus diagnosis and treatment options.

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