New research findings suggest that regular meditation may slow down progression of glaucoma. In the study, patients with primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) showed significant improvements in both eye and overall health with regular meditation compared to the control group who did not meditate.
Study lead investigator Tanuj Dada explained, “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 a 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. Mindful meditation is easy to do, even by patients who are elderly and bedridden.”
Co-investigator, Bernhard Sabel 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.”
Ninety patients were randomly divided into two groups: One group received guided meditation and breathing exercises three times a week while continuing to take their eye drops and the other group took their eye drops but did not meditate.
After the three week study period, 75 percent of those who meditated saw significant improvements in eye pressure, but this was not seen in the control group. The meditation group also experienced other health benefits including reduced cortisol levels, increases in beta-endorphins, and brain-derived neurotrophic factors and a reduction in oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory markers.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness. Reducing IOP is a proven way to reduce the progression of glaucoma. So far, the only methods to do this is through eye drops, laser therapy, or surgery. which can be very invasive. Outcomes generally improve with a reduction in IOP so implementing a method like meditation offers patients complimentary treatment which not only benefits the eyes but overall health.
Co-author Muneeb Faiq explained, “Our findings open an exciting avenue of harnessing the power of the brain to cure ailments of the human body. A majority of human diseases have an underlying psychological component, and it is the psychology of the patient that meditation targets. Reducing stress hormone levels with evidence-based methods can impact many organs in the body, including the eyes. More research is now needed to explore the exciting prospect of whether meditation can also serve to reduce or stop the progression of vision loss or even achieve vision restoration.”
There is a large rise in meditation apps and videos that can be easily accessed to help you get started in improving your vision along with overall health.
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