Glaucoma and Yoga
What to tell our patients at Katzen Eye Care
We are all trying to find new ways to have a healthier and less stressful life. One of the most common means for relaxation is practicing yoga. However, I do not recall too many patients asking us if they can do yoga. It is assumed to be healthy due to its low impact and relaxing qualities
Aerobic exercise is very important to anybody’s overall good health. By aerobic exercise we mean walking, swimming, biking or working out on a stationary bike among others. Exercise improves the blood flow to the brain and eyes, thus lowering your blood pressure and your intraocular eye pressure.
When it comes to yoga, especially if you have a history of glaucoma, a patient should get an approval from their ophthalmologist to start on this form of exercise. It is not advisable for a glaucoma patient to practice inverted postures or any pose that places the head below the heart. These kinds of postures can raise the intraocular eye pressure to a patient who already has an elevated pressure level in their eyes. The best advice is to practice a form of yoga that has you move slowly, provides props, and adapts postures to your needs.
Ask your yoga instructor to help you design a modified practice that lowers the potential effect of raising your eye pressure. The worst postures, for glaucoma patients, are when there is a vertical distance between the eyes and the heart. The two postures that place the eyes furthest below the heart are down-ward-facing dog and standing forward bend poses. Your instructor can easily modify your routine. There is an endless amount of postures; you need to choose the right ones for you.
If you have glaucoma or you are a glaucoma suspect please do not stop from attempting the art of yoga. Enjoy it and make sure your routine is safe for you. Namaste!