Meditation lowers IOP in glaucoma : AIIMS study
Meditation lowers Intra Ocular Pressure in glaucoma is the finding of a recent research at AIIMS. The study has been published in the Journal of Glaucoma, an official journal of the World Glaucoma Association.
The study was done by doctors at the premiere RP Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences in collaboration with Integral Health Clinic, Department of Physiology and Genetics Lab in the Department of Anatomy at the AIIMS.
Glaucoma is a complex disease in which damage to the optic nerve leads to progressive, irreversible vision loss. It is the second leading cause of blindness and is usually described as a disease affecting peripheral vision. It is actually a group of diseases and the most common type is hereditary.
"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 Opthalmology at the RP Centre, AIIMS, also the first author of the study.
In the study 90 glaucoma patients were selected and randomly divided into two groups.One group performed meditation and breathing exercises (pranayama) for 60 minutes each morning over 21 days under a trained yoga instructor along with glaucoma medications whereas the second group just continued medicines without any meditation.
After completion of three weeks, it was found that there was significant reduction seen in intra-ocular pressure with mean pressure falling from 19 mmHg to 13 mmHg (25 per cent IOP reduction seen in 75 per cent patients) in the meditation group.
It was further found that the patients who underwent meditation therapy also had a decrease in cortisol and increase in beta-endorphins with improvement in general wellbeing.Another finding was that there were also changes in expression of the genes positively impacting the health of the retinal ganglion cells and optic nerve which would 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 the elevation of blood pressure but seldom think about its impact on eye pressure.
"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," said Dr Raj Kumar Yadav, Professor-in-charge of Integral Health Clinic, Department of Physiology at AIIMS.
Meditation must be learnt and practised by all glaucoma patients, including elderly and bed-ridden patients which can significantly alleviate the suffering of glaucoma patients and reduce the need for medicines.
"A word of caution - mediation can be recommended as an adjunctive therapy for glaucoma patients and not as a substitute for medicines/eye drops."Patients must not stop using glaucoma medications and must regularly follow up and get their eye check up done at least once a year by a qualified eye specialist," Dr Tanuj Dada, Professor of Ophthalmology at RP Centre. said.