A recent study has revealed that while the use of CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) devices can be beneficial for certain eye issues in diabetic patients, it can also lead to minor bleeding events in the eyes.
According to a report, CPAP devices can effectively slow down the advancement of diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can potentially lead to blindness. However, researchers from Spain have issued a warning, stating that the use of these machines also elevates the risk of microhemorrhages, which can result in vision disturbances such as streaks, a reddish tint, or other vision problems.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication associated with diabetes, affecting the blood vessels in the retina. It can cause symptoms like blurred vision, dark spots, floaters, difficulty in perceiving colors, and ultimately, it can lead to vision loss and complete blindness if diabetes is not properly managed.
In this latest study, scientists examined the impact of CPAP therapy on patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea and mild to moderate non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR). They conducted a controlled trial at a university hospital in Spain, involving 83 patients between October 2016 and February 2020. Among these patients, 43 received CPAP treatment, while 40 were part of a control group and did not receive CPAP devices.
The findings indicated that the use of CPAP reduced the occurrence of hard exudates in the eyes by nearly 50%. Exudates are cells and fluids that leak from blood vessels, typically due to inflammation, and serve as a marker for diabetic retinopathy.
However, the study also revealed that diabetic patients using CPAP devices were six times more likely to experience retinal microhemorrhages, and these occurrences were directly associated with the prescribed pressure levels of the CPAP device. Although these small bleeds often do not present noticeable symptoms, they can lead to vision issues like streaks, floaters, or a reddish tint in the vision.
The researchers concluded that "In patients with obstructive sleep apnea and non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, extended CPAP treatment, in addition to standard care, may result in a slower progression of retinal disease. However, it could also lead to an increase in retinal microhemorrhages."