A study conducted by doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has found that lowering eye pressure in patients suffering from glaucoma can be achieved by meditating.
Glaucoma occurs where high intraocular pressure damages the optic nerve of the eye and is the leading cause of blindness in India, impacting over 12 million people.
“Lowering of intraocular pressure (IOP) is the only proven therapy for glaucoma and this is currently achieved with eye drops, laser therapy or surgery. Eye drops are costly and have side effects on the whole body and many patients are not able to afford them as a lifelong therapy,” said Dr. Tanuj Dada, Professor of Ophthalmology at the RP Centre, AIIMS, also the first author of the study.
lowering of eye pressure with meditation by targeting the brain and improving both the eye condition as well as general health of the patients
Completed at RP Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, in conjunction with Integral Health Clinic, Department of Physiology and Genetics Lab in Department of Anatomy at the AIIMS, the study incorporated 90 glaucoma patients, 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.
The results, after three weeks, showed a significant reduction in intra-ocular pressure with mean pressure falling from 19 mmHg to 13 mmHg in the meditation group. Changes to stress hormones and improved wellbeing were also recorded for the meditation group.
Positive changes were also seen in the expression of the genes of the retinal ganglion cells and optic nerve 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 of 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.