The circadian clock is entrained to light by the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells. Loss of these cells in glaucoma, an eye disease with loss of retinal ganglion cells as its key feature, might thus result in a change in chronotype. We aimed to compare the chrono-type between glaucoma patients and healthy subjects.
We sent the Munich Chrono Type Questionnaire to 221 glaucoma patients (response rate 81%); controls (primary control group) were primarily their spouses. After exclusion of shift workers and participants who woke-up due to an alarm clock on days off, 159 glaucoma patients (88 early, 21 moderate, 23 severe) and 163 controls remained. We calculated chronotype as the mid-sleep on days off, corrected for workweek accumulated sleep debt (MSFsc). We compared means and variances between groups using Welch's tests and F-tests, respectively. A secondary control group was recruited from participants in a citizen-science project (n = 17073) who completed an online questionnaire. A resampling method was applied to enable an age- and gender- matched comparison with the glaucoma patients.
Compared to the primary control group, glaucoma did not affect the mean MSFsc (controls 3:47; early, moderate, and severe glaucoma 3:40, 3:45, and 3:33, respectively [P = 0.62]). Chrono type variability seemed to increase with increasing disease severity (severe glaucoma versus controls: P = 0.023). The mean MSFsc of the secondary control group was 3:50 (95% confidence interval 3:48 to 3:52); significantly later than that of the glaucoma patients (3:40; P = 0.024). Mean MSFsc did not differ significantly between the control groups (P = 0.42).
No clear changes were found in the chronotype as determined by sleep phase in patients with glaucoma, especially not in early and moderate glaucoma. In severe glaucoma, chrono-type variability seems to increase, possibly alongside a small advancement.