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Got Glaucoma? You Might Want to Avoid These Yoga Poses

Yoga has helped many people manage a range of ailments, injuries, illnesses, and issues. But some yoga asanas aren’t suitable for certain conditions.
A recent study has alerted people with glaucoma to avoid a series of yoga postures that may increase eye pressure. If you, or someone you know, has glaucoma you might want to read up on this new research.

About the yoga and glaucoma study

Led by a team at New York Ear and Eye Infirmary of Mount Sinai (NYEE) and published in ‘PLOS ONE’ journal, the study suggests that people with glaucoma may put pressure on their eyes while practising yoga postures with their heads down.
These asanas include Halasana (Plow), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog), and Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall) – all popular poses for beginners.
The team made this discovery by having healthy patients and glaucoma patients practice a set of yoga positions including those mentioned above. Their IOP (elevated intraocular pressure) was measured.
Interestingly, all participants experienced increased IOP – most notably during the Downward Facing Dog pose. The increase was significant enough for the researchers to warn against these postures for people with glaucoma and other conditions when eye pressure and elevated IOP is an issue.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is serious condition that often goes undiagnosed. According to Glaucoma Australia, glaucoma is “the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world” and affects one in eight Australians over 80.
The group of eye diseases destroys the eye’s optic nerve over time. This is often caused by increased fluid pressure caused by the blockage or drainage of the aqueous humour.

Exercising with glaucoma

While people with glaucoma are encouraged to be active and lead a healthy lifestyle, there are some activities that should be avoided.
Robert Ritch, MD, senior study author and the Shelley and Steven Einhorn Distinguished Chair and Director, Glaucoma Research, NYEE was quoted in a ScienceDaily article: “While we encourage our patients to live active and healthy lifestyles, including physical exercise, certain types of activities, including pushups and lifting heavy weights, should be avoided by glaucoma patients due to the risk of increasing IOP and possibly damaging the optic nerve.
“This new study will help clinicians advise their patients on the potential risk associated with various yoga positions and other exercises that involve inverted poses.”
If you have glaucoma, you should ensure your yoga practitioner understands your condition and can make changes to postures to avoid any additional IOP.

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