Glaucoma is the most common cause of permanent blindness around the world. It is estimated to affect 70 million people globally. Primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) is one type of the condition that is characterized by an open, normal appearing anterior chamber angle but an increased intraocular pressure (IOP).
There is currently no cure for POAG and treatment options are limited, with a focus on decreasing the intraocular pressure through the use of medicated eye drops, laser therapy, or surgery. These types of treatments are extremely expensive and can have detrimental effects on the health and quality of life of the patients.
A new study has found that meditation could be a potential new treatment option for POAG patients. Meditation limits the need for medications, which can reduce the risk of side effects caused by other treatments. The nature of meditative therapies also helps patients to manage their levels of stress and improve their quality of life. For a condition such as POAG that has psychological as well as physical burdens, meditation can help to treat both.
The participants included 90 POAG patients, who were randomly assigned to one of two types of therapy. The researchers examined the participants throughout three weeks. The control group was treated with eye drops.
The experimental group was treated with the same eye drops, in addition to meeting with a yoga instructor every day and participating in 60-minute sessions on meditation and breathing. At the end of the trial period, the majority of the participants who took part in the meditation and breathing exercises showed a 25 percent decrease in their intraocular pressure.
Anyone Can Learn How to Meditate
“We know that chronic stress can lead to elevation of blood pressure but seldom think about its known effect on the eye by provoking a high intraocular pressure. 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,” said the study’s lead researcher Tanuj Dada.
Study co-author Muneeb Faiq said, “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.”
Although yoga and meditation are practiced by millions of individuals around the world as part of personal mindfulness practices, they are not currently being recognized or recommended as a form of medical treatment by healthcare practitioners in the United States.
- Primary open-angle glaucoma treatment: Home remedies to manage glaucoma in elderly
- Glaucoma: Natural home remedies and diet
- Is glaucoma hereditary or a genetic disease?