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Colm D. Andrews, Russell G. Foster, Iona Alexander, Sridhar Vasudevan, Susan M. Downes, Carl Heneghan, Annette Plüddemann; Sleep–Wake Disturbance Related to Ocular Disease: A Systematic Review of Phase-Shifting Pharmaceutical Therapies. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2019;8(3):49. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.8.3.49.
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Light input, via the eyes, is essential for regulating circadian rhythms. Eye diseases can cause disruption of vital biological rhythms. Of totally blind people, 87% report sleep problems. There are no UK guidelines for visual disturbance–related circadian rhythm disruption. Our objective was to systematically review the literature to determine the effectiveness of pharmacological agents on the sleep quality of patients with sleep disturbance related to ocular disease.
We searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and CINAHL alongside protocol registries and citation searches. We assessed the risk of bias using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Assessment Tool and assessed the strength of overall evidence using GRADE criteria.
Four studies (n=116) met the inclusion criteria. Low-quality evidence showed that melatonin can cause entrainment (1 study), increases in total sleep time (all 3 studies), and reduction in sleep latency (1 study). Low-to-moderate quality evidence showed tasimelteon causes a significant improvement in entrainment, midpoint of sleep timing, lower-quartile of night-time sleep, and upper-quartile of daytime sleep.
Results should be treated with caution as the melatonin studies had risks of bias due to inadequate reporting of randomization and masking procedures. The tasimelteon trial had a risk of reporting bias due to changing the outcomes after enrolling participants. Despite the paucity of trials, melatonin and tasimelteon may cause entrainment and improve subjective sleep measures with limited side effects.
Given the relative cost melatonin may be a viable choice for treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorders in the blind and warrants further research.
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