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When it comes to maintaining your eye health, you may not realize that the amount of sleep you get each night influences the quality of your sight. Not only is sleep important for your health, but it’s also crucial to maintain your vision over time. Here are a few ways that low quality sleep can begin to affect and harm your eyes over time.
A lack of sleep can cause the muscles in the eyes to begin to twitch and have spasms, which can make it difficult to read or focus on your work throughout the day. Twitching of the eyes is known as myokymia and is involuntary. It doesn’t become resolved until the individual catches up on their sleep. Not only may you also have dark circles and bags under your eyes due to a lack of sleep, but you may also have bloodshot eyes that are irritated due to insufficient rest.
The eyes can also become dry, which can make them itchy and bloodshot. Some people develop a dependency on eye drops for added moisture, which can limit how many tears are naturally produced. Dry eyes also increase the risk of infections that can occur, especially when rubbing them, and due to a compromised immune system that can’t fight off bacteria.
Lower tear production is an additional side effect of strained eyes that are exhausted because cells aren’t getting repaired properly at night if there’s a lack of sleep. While sleeping, the body uses the time to regulate hormone levels and repair cells, but burning and irritation can occur if this doesn’t happen. Dry eyes can become chronic in severe cases and can lead to light sensitivity, pain, itching, and blurred vision due to a lack of moisture.
In some cases, burst blood vessels can occur due to overuse and strain of the eyes, which is your body’s way of telling you that it needs a break.
Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES) occurs when the eyelids become pliant and develop a rubbery texture. They often remain puckered when they’re plucked. Many people who suffer from this condition experience eye redness, discharge, irritation, eyelid swelling, and sensitivity to light. Studies show that 85 percent of people who suffer from Floppy Eyelid Syndrome are also diagnosed with OSA. The collagen in the tissue of the eyelids begins to change due to the OSA’s disrupted breathing, which changes the enzymes in the tissue. This causes the lids to become floppy and lose their rigid form.
Ischemic Optic Neuropathy is a condition that can lead to permanent vision loss and is the result of severe sleep deprivation. Those who are middle-aged or are elderly are at a higher risk because they often have a history of a lack of sleep. Those who suffer from sleep disorders or insomnia are at a higher risk of developing the condition, as it is caused by an interruption of blood flow to the optic nerve. This is similar to when blood flow is disconnected from the brain during a stroke. Unfortunately, the vision loss is irreversible once it occurs.
Those who fail to get adequate sleep for prolonged periods of times are at an increased risk of glaucoma due to too much pressure that develops in the eyes. The condition can lead to vision loss in severe cases. With proper sleep, it can allow the eyes to rest and repair themselves to ensure you remain healthy.
When you fail to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night on a consistent basis, it can cause increased pressure around the brain, which causes the optic nerve to swell. The first signs of papilledema include blurred or faded vision, headache, and vomiting. The condition typically doesn’t resolve until the individual gets more sleep.
Those who get less than five hours of sleep each night may notice that their eyes have difficulty focusing. In some cases, you may even experience double vision. The muscles that control the eyes are often exhausted, which can prevent them from operating correctly. A misalignment can occur between the extraocular muscle, which controls the movement of the eye, and the ciliary muscle, which is needed for reading.
Learning just how much inadequate sleep can affect your eyes can allow you to understand why you may be experiencing vision issues or dry eyes. By knowing how much sleep is necessary to heal and repair your body, it can be easier to make it a priority each night to improve your overall health and well-being.