Glaucoma is known to affect 65 million people worldwide. It is estimated that 10 percent of those who have glaucoma become blind. Glaucoma occurs because there is optic nerve damage. The measurement of the fluid pressure inside the eye is called intraocular pressure or IOP. Increased eye pressure is one of the reasons why glaucoma occurs. The damage can reduce vision permanently and result in total blindness if not treated.
There has been a new study where it suggested that mindfulness meditation may help in lowering eye pressure in glaucoma patients. According to the researchers in the Journal of Glaucoma, mindfulness meditation is a strategy that can help patients to cope with their disease and improve outcomes. However, meditation alone is not enough to substitute current glaucoma treatment. The authors suggested that it may be a useful complement in the current treatment for glaucoma including eye drops, laser therapy, and surgery.
Is It True That Stress Can Increase Eye Pressure?
In earlier studies, it was suggested that psychological stress can increase eye pressure. Relaxation techniques might help in lowering eye pressure. The newest study lasted for 21 days and it compared different treatments for separate groups. However, the study did not assess the effect of mindfulness meditation on the progression of the patients’ glaucoma. A study included 90 patients with primary open-angle glaucoma which is the most common form of the disease.
There are two groups, a group of patients who practice mindfulness-based meditation and a group who do not meditate. Both groups take eye drops to lower their intraocular pressure. At the end of three weeks, there is no significant change in IOP in the group that did not meditate. According to Dr. McKinney, there is no exact explanation of how stress is related to IOP. It is possible that stress mediators which are hormones and chemicals that increase in the body when a person is stressed affect the eye.
How Patients With Glaucoma Should Handle Stress
Ophthalmologist have a list of strategies to manage the stress of glaucoma patients which includes regular exercise and healthy sleep habits. According to Dr. McKinney, he saw better outcomes for glaucoma patients who manage stress better. Your ophthalmologist can refer various ways to reduce stress to improve the patient’s overall quality of life. It will not hurt to try stress reduction to manage glaucoma.