A new study conducted by Loyola University Health System is providing further evidence that floppy eyelids may be a sign of sleep apnea. The study found 53 percent of sleep apnea patients had upper eyelids that were lax and rubbery. A brief recap of that study is below, and the original study can be viewed and read here.
The Loyola study included 35 patients who were flagged for sleep apnea. A sleep test confirmed 32 of the 35 patients had sleep apnea. Further examination by ophthalmologists discovered 17 of the 32 sleep apnea patients (the 53 percent) also had a lax eyelid condition. Ophthalmologists measured lax eyelids with a measuring technique developed at Loyola called a laxometer. Researchers hypothesized that this objective measuring technique would provide a more accurate predictor of sleep apnea.
The study suggests it’s the most severe cases of sleep apnea patients that also present the most pronounced cases of floppy eyelids. According to Dr. Bouchard, chair of Loyola Medicine’s department of ophthalmology, lax and rubbery eyelids are found in people who have one of three related conditions:
-Lax eyelid condition (rubbery lids)
-Lax eyelid syndrome (lax eyelids plus conjunctivitis)
-Floppy eyelid syndrome (lax eyelid syndrome in obese patients)
It’s still a little unclear why sleep apnea is linked to floppy eyelids. One popular theory suggests the condition is associated with low-grade inflammation that causes degradation of elastin, a protein that allows skin and other tissues to resume their shape after stretching or contracting.
Will your office be adding ‘floppy eyelids’ to your sleep apnea screening forms?
If you’re a dentist treating patients for sleep apnea, we can help with the diagnosis process. Try our (free for the dentist) concierge home sleep testing service!