Somnus Sleep Wake Study

The Effects of Ocular Disease on Sleep and Body Clocks

Professor Susan Downes is Consultant Ophthalmologist and Chief Investigator for ‘The effect of ocular disease on sleep and body clocks’ study. Sleep and body clock disruption is often reported as a significant problem by patients who have eye disease, particularly in the severely visually impaired. Additional disturbance of sleep patterns are closely linked to low mood and poor quality of life. Patients with eye disease may progress to severe visual impairment, but some cells which provide information on lighting to the brain may still be working and therefore still able to regulate circadian rhythm to some extent.

  • Part 1 consists of a set of questionnaires carried out upon recruitment in the eye hospital for eligible participants.
  • Part 2 is the participant completion of a sleep diary to coincide with ‘actigraphy’, a non-invasive method of monitoring human rest/activity cycles. This will enable participants’ sleep cycles to be accurately analysed to give researchers a clearer picture about their sleep quality.
  • Part 3 involves participants being invited to participate in genetic testing. This will involve a blood test with subsequent molecular analysis to look for variants in the genes implicated in sleep/wake, circadian rhythm and how they are linked with eye disease.

Since recruitment commenced in 2011 at Oxford University Hospitals, the study has initiated at 9 other sites around the Thames Valley area, the South West of England, London and South Wales.

The study is drawing to a close for Part 1, with the recruitment target of over 3000 participants being achieved. Within the pool of participants from Part 1, the most significantly sleep disrupted are being offered recruitment to Parts 2 and 3 in order to further assess their sleep/wake disorder. This is with the intention of better managing and improving patients’ sleep in the long term.

The study is due to close in July 2021.