Yoga has an amazing roster of health benefits to its credit – everything from improving arthritis to prostate cancer symptoms. Women and men alike say they maintain flexibility, skin tone and a healthy weight by maintaining their yoga “practice,” and there are plenty of studies and statistics to support the validity of those reported effects. But a new study has looked at yoga’s impact on people with glaucoma, and the results aren’t as positive.
Glaucoma causes a build up of pressure in the eye, which can damage the optic never and affect eyesight. And it’s the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the country. Researchers in this latest study investigated the potential risks that yoga might present for glaucoma patients.
Previous studies only tested the headstand position, which showed a two-fold increase in inner ocular pressure (IOP). This study asked people without eye disease and people with glaucoma to undertake various yoga positions and then have their IOP tested. Elevated IOP is the most common risk factor for glaucoma damage — and the only thing that when modified, has been proven to prevent or slow glaucoma progression.
All four of the basic inverted yoga poses increase eye pressure
Results showed that both groups of study participants had a rise in their IOP in all four yoga poses:
- Downward dog
- Standing forward bend
- Legs up on the wall
But the greatest pressure increase was caused by one of the best known and most popular yoga positions, downward dog.
Glaucoma patients should live active lives, including exercise, but…
The rise in IOP after assuming the tested yoga poses indicates that they might not be worth the risk for glaucoma patients. And other types of exercise, including pushups and heavy weightlifting, are already recommended, “to be avoided” by glaucoma patients because they can increase the risk of increasing IOP.
Certain yoga poses and their affect on glaucoma progression will need further study
Glaucoma patients should share their issues with their yoga instructors and learn about modifications that can make the poses safer for them. And always talk to your doctor about all your exercise programs. Call today: (800) 521-6028.