Sleep deprivation (SD) can cause a number of issues with our body not just physically but also physiologically. A publication in IOVS Volume 55 titled “Sleep Deprivation Reduces Tear Secretion and Impairs the Tear Film” by Young Bok Lee et al, presents very interesting information that explains why our eyes are so irritated when sleep deprived. They recruited 20 healthy male subjects and randomized them into two groups. 10 in the control and 10 in the SD group (no sleep for 24 hrs). They excluded subjects with any history of ocular disease, dry eye disease (DED) symptoms as well as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Sjogren’s syndrome (SS) and no topical or oral medications. This is extremely important to note these were very healthy young male subjects. Tear osmolarity (TO), Tear film break-up time (TBUT), Schirmer’s test, pain on a visual analog scale (VAS) and IOP were measured. They found a significant increase in tear osmolarity (P = 0.004) as well as TBUT was significantly shorter and Schirmer’s test reduced.
Just imagine how our patients with DED can suffer so much more from sleep deprivation. Considering these subjects had an optimally functioning lacrimal unit and they demonstrated this much detrimental physiologic change in their tear film, imagine how our patients that have so many concommitant issues such as tear film hyperosmolarity, systemic diseases and medications which challenge the lacrimal system, it is no wonder sleep deprivation will only worsen their condition causing apoptosis, pain and visual compromise.
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Authors: Dr. Yong Bok Lee et al