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Mulqueeny Eye Centers - Blog

Can Cataracts Affect How Well You Sleep?

July 17, 2012 @ 04:19 AM -- by Andrew J. Biondo, OD

What are circadian rhythms?

Circadian rhythms, biological processes that regulate hormones, body temperature, appetite and sleep, revolve around a daily cycle and are responsible for our daily routines.  

It isn’t surprising to hear that our sleep/wake cycle is dictated but the sun, but it appears not all sun rays are created equal.  New research is finding that light from the blue end of the spectrum helps to regulate the hormones that give us energy during the day (cortisol) and make us tired at night (melatonin).   The blue light accomplishes this by stimulating special receptors in the retina.

So what does this have to do with cataracts?

Based on this new information, some researchers are starting to link cataracts with sleep disturbances.  A cataract is a darkening or yellowing of the lens inside of the eye.  As we age, the lens transitions from clear to a yellow/brown color that gradually darkens over time.  This yellowing lens acts as a filter that prevents blue light from reaching the retina and therefore disturbs our daily circadian hormone balance. 

A recent study in the journal of Sleep has actually shown improvements in sleep patterns following cataract surgery.