MAYWOOD, Ill — June 28, 2018 — A study published in The Ocular Surface is providing further evidence that floppy eyelids may be a sign of sleep apnoea.
Charles Bouchard, MD, Loyola University, Maywood, Illinois, and colleagues reported that 53% of patients with sleep apnoea had upper eyelids that were lax and rubbery. The most severe cases of sleep apnoea were associated with the most pronounced cases of floppy eyelids, but this association was not strong enough to be considered statistically significant.
Lax, rubbery eyelids are found in people who have lax eyelid condition, lax eyelid syndrome (lax eyelids plus conjunctivitis), and floppy eyelid syndrome (lax eyelid syndrome in obese young men).
A patient with floppy eyelid syndrome with typical drooping of the eyelashes (lash ptosis) and a mucus discharge
It’s unclear why sleep apnoea is linked to floppy eyelids. One 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.
“Obstructive sleep apnoea is a severely underdiagnosed disease, and without treatment leads to increased morbidity and mortality,” the authors concluded. “It is the duty of today’s ophthalmologist to be diligent in making the diagnosis of lax eyelid syndrome in the ophthalmology clinic. They are in the unique position to identify patients at risk for obstructive sleep apnoea and address this critical public health problem.”