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Ocular surface assessment in patients with obstructive sleep apnea–hypopnea syndrome



The aim of this study was to assess the correlation between ocular surface changes and disease severity in patients with obstructive sleep apnea–hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS).


Two hundred eighty patients with OSAHS were compared with respect to the presence of a floppy eyelid syndrome (FES), Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) questionnaire, the corneal fluorescein staining stages, the Schirmer I test, and tear film break-up time (TBUT) values.


Based on the apnea–hypopnea index, the presence of FES was detected at the following rates: 23.1 % in non-OSAHS group (A), 41.7 % in mild group (B), 66.7 % in moderate group (C), and 74.6 % in severe group (D); severe and moderate stage of FES was found in groups C and D and mild stage of FES in group B (p < 0.01). OSDI questionnaire values were as follows: group A, 12.57 ± 17.64; group B, 22.90 ± 16.78; group C, 45.94 ± 22.03; and group D, 56.68 ± 22.85(p < 0.01). Schirmer values were as follows: group A, 10.76 ± 3.58 mm; group B, 9.83 ± 2.53 mm; group C, 7.73 ± 2.42 mm; and group D, 6.97 ± 2.15 mm (p < 0.01). The TBUT values were as follows: group A, 10.53 ± 3.64 s; group B, 9.46 ± 2.40 s; group C, 7.29 ± 2.13 s; and group D, 6.82 ± 2.20 s (p < 0.01). Corneal staining scores are as follows: 0.26 ± 0.60 in group A, 0.40 ± 0.71 in group B, 0.98 ± 0.72 in group C, and 1.14 ± 0.90 in group D, and the differences were statistically significant among the groups(p < 0.01).


OSAHS, particularly the moderate and severe forms, is associated with low Schirmer and TBUT values and high scores in OSDI questionnaire and corneal staining pattern stage. The presence of FES is observed as a practically constant finding in OSAHS. If complaints such as burning, stinging, and itching which can be commonly observed in middle-aged patients are accompanied by FES, the patient should be evaluated for sleep disorders. We speculate that appropriate treatment of OSAHS may result in better control of these symptoms.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Mutlu Acar.

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Acar, M., Firat, H., Acar, U. et al. Ocular surface assessment in patients with obstructive sleep apnea–hypopnea syndrome. Sleep Breath 17, 583–588 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11325-012-0724-0

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  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Floppy eyelid syndrome
  • Ocular surface disease
  • Apnea–hypopnea index
  • Tear function tests
  • Oxford scheme