Glaucoma Study Finds Lower Intra-ocular Pressure from Mindfulness Meditation

meditation and glaucomaAccording to a small study published in the Journal of Glaucoma, a short course of mindfulness meditation reduced intraocular pressure (IOP) in patients with primary open angle glaucoma (POAG). The practice also normalized stress biomarkers and positively modified gene expression. Mindfulness meditation may be a therapeutic resource to reduce IOP and help glaucoma patients.

Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness in the U.S. This serious eye disease affects mostly seniors. They gradually develop “tunnel vision” due to optic nerve damage. Any lost sight cannot be restored. For that reason, early detection and intervention are necessary.

Primary open angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma. People who are developing glaucoma often do not notice until peripheral vision reduces. Regular eye exams are important for catching glaucoma. Most of the time, intra-ocular pressure (IOP) is high in open-angle glaucoma patients. The doctor and patient will aim to keep IOP at normal levels. The main goal is to minimize further optic nerve damage.

In the study1, researchers reviewed the results of a randomized trial of 90 open-angle glaucoma patients. Under the supervision of a certified mindfulness meditation teacher, the study group practiced daily hour-long mindful meditation for 21 days. The control group of glaucoma patients had no intervention. The mindfulness group had significant IOP reductions among other compelling benefits.

For example, the meditation group had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The authors of the study speculated that mental stress may play a major role in the acceleration of glaucoma. Although they acknowledged that meditation may provide relaxation, they require more evidence, especially with practical applications.

  1. Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Intra-ocular Pressure, Lowers Stress Biomarkers and Modulates Gene Expression in Glaucoma A Randomized Controlled Trial.
    Dada, Tanuj et. al. Journal of Glaucoma: December 2018 – Volume 27 – Issue 12 – p 1061–1067 doi: 10.1097/IJG.0000000000001088