Meditation—an effective new therapy to reduce eye pressure in primary open-angle glaucoma
By: Otto-v.-Guericke Universität Magdeburg
A new era in the management of glaucoma is ushered in by a landmark study published in the Journal of Glaucoma, official journal of the World Glaucoma Association. Patients with primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) showed significant improvements of both ocular and general health after participating in a program of mindfulness meditation focused on breathing compared to the control group that did not partake.
“We know that chronic stress can lead to elevation of blood pressure (systemic hypertension), but seldom think about its known effect on the eye by provoking high intraocular pressure (IOP). This is the first study showing that a relaxation program with meditation can lower IOP in glaucoma patients and improve their quality of life by lowering stress hormones like cortisol. Mindfulness meditation is easy to do, even by patients who are elderly and bedridden,” said the study’s lead investigator Tanuj Dada, MD, from the Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.
Co-investigator Bernhard Sabel, Ph.D. from the Institute of Medical Psychology, Otto-.v.-Guericke University of Magdeburg, Germany, added, “The study suggests that mental stress may be one of the main causal factors for glaucoma, and using this ancient meditation technique to reduce stress is a powerful tool to treat the patient as a whole and not just the eye, a holistic approach to manage the disease and also improve overall patient well-being.”
The scientists randomly divided 90 POAG patients (all of whom were being treated with eye drops before and during the study) into two groups. One group underwent a three-week program of meditation and breathing exercises with a trained yoga instructor for 60 minutes every morning while continuing taking their eye drops. The second group also continued taking the eye drops but did not meditate. At the end of three weeks, 75% of the patients who practiced meditation demonstrated a significant 25% drop in eye pressure, which was not observed in the control group. Additionally, meditation positively influenced other indicators, such as reduced cortisol levels (stress hormone), increases in beta-endorphins and brain-derived neurotrophic factors and reduced oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory markers (interleukins)….
Source: Medical Xpress