Editorial by Dan Roberts
Recent research has found an association between longer sleep duration and advanced dry age-related macular degeneration (dAMD), also known as geographic atrophy. This has been misconstrued by at least one media outlet to mean that too much sleep might actually cause the disease. That is absolutely untrue.
According to the researchers, “Sleeping too much or too little has been associated with adverse health outcomes including total mortality, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.” The purpose of the study was to further explore the relationship of sleep and disease states by looking at people who are affected by dAMD. It was not intended to identify sleep as a risk factor for developing blindness.
Of 1,003 subjects in the study, the group with geographic atrophy was found to sleep longer than those without AMD. Not only will a good night’s sleep not cause blindness, a good deal of evidence supports sleep as a positive benefit for visually impaired people. It allows the retina to complete the visual cycle, restores physical endurance, and relieves the stresses often associated with losing vision. Of course, sleeping too much can also be a sign of depression, so common sense must prevail.
As I have said before, an associative effect is not necessarily a causal effect. We need to maintain a healthy amount of skepticism and not believe everything we read.