Severe obstructive sleep apnea may be associated with more severe diabetic macular edema, leading to refractory DME, Healio reports.

“In a JAMA study in 2017, [the authors found] when hypoxia occurs, it will directly increase the secretion of VEGF from retinal pigment epithelial cells. Based on this, we suspected there might be some relation between [obstructive sleep apnea] and DME,” Jui-Fan Chiang, MD, said at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting.

A retrospective study of patients at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan evaluated 97 eyes of 51 patients who underwent both polysomnography and OCT. There were 66 non-DME eyes and 31 DME eyes.

“We found that DME was significantly associated with higher [Apnea-Hypopnea Index] and more severe [obstructive sleep apnea],” Chiang said.