Turns out, floppy eyelids may be an indication of sleep apnea.
A study by author Charles Bouchard, MD, and colleagues reported that 53 percent of sleep apnea patients had upper eyelids that were lax and rubbery.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the upper airway becomes blocked repeatedly, preventing restful sleep. Loud snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, and fatigue are some of the symptoms.
Chair of Loyola Medicine’s department of ophthalmology, Dr. Bouchard said, “Lax, 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); and floppy eyelid syndrome (lax eyelid syndrome in obese young men).
The Loyola study included 35 patients who were evaluated by Loyola sleep specialists for suspicion of sleep apnea.
Ophthalmologists employed to measure lax eyelids with a measuring instrument developed at Loyola called a laxometer. Researchers hypothesized that this objective measuring technique would provide a more accurate predictor of sleep apnea.
It is, however, unclear why sleep apnea is linked to floppy eyelids. One theory suggested that 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.
The study appears in the journal The Ocular Surface.