We are always keen to hear ways our lifestyle can positively benefit our health, read on. A study by doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has found that lowering eye pressure in people with glaucoma can be achieved by meditating.
Glaucoma, a disease which damages the optic nerve of the eye, is the leading cause of blindness in India, impacting over 12 million people.
“Lowering eye pressure is the only proven therapy for glaucoma and this is currently achieved with eye drops, laser therapy or surgery. Like all medications, eye drops have a cost and side effects, and many struggle with drops as a lifelong therapy,” said Dr. Tanuj Dada, Professor of Ophthalmology at the RP Centre, AIIMS.
90 glaucoma patients were selected and randomly divided into two groups. One group was required to perform meditation and breathing exercises, as instructed by a yoga instructor, for an hour each morning over 21 days as well as take their glaucoma medications. The second group only took glaucoma medications.
After three weeks the results showed significant reduced eye pressure (mean pressure falling from 19 mmHg to 13 mmHg) in the meditation group. Changes to stress hormones and improved wellbeing were also recorded for this group.
Positive changes were also seen in the expression of retinal ganglion cell and optic nerve genes, which could potentially protect the eye from future damage and blindness.
“We know that glaucoma patients have high levels of anxiety and stress as they suffer from a potentially blinding disorder. We also are aware of the fact that stress leads to elevation of blood pressure but seldom think about its impact on eye pressure,” said Dr. Raj Kumar Yadav, Professor in-charge of Integral Health Clinic, Department of Physiology at AIIMS.
“This is the first study in the world which offers robust scientific evidence for lowering eye pressure with meditation, by targeting the brain and improving both the eye condition as well as general health of the patients,” he said.
The meditation technique is simple and can be easily learnt by all glaucoma patients. It is important to remember that patients should not stop using their glaucoma medications, and regular eye checks should continue as usual.
The study was funded by the Ministry of AYUSH.