Mindfulness Meditation (MM) is associated with a significant decrease in intraocular pressure (IOP) according to a study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. Secondary findings also reveal improvements in optic head nerve perfusion, vessel density, flux index, and quality of life.
Researchers analyzed the eyes of 60 patients (all 40 years of age or older, best corrected visual acuity >6/12 on a Snellen chart, IOP range: >21 mm Hg to <30 mm Hg), obtained applanation tonometry and serum cortisol level measurements, and assessed participant quality of life via the World Health Order Quality of Life-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF) questionnaire. They randomized participants into a treatment arm (group 1, n=30), and a control group (group 2, n=30). Patients in group 1 underwent MM for a 6 week period while members of group 2 were simply given instructions to follow up at the conclusion of the 6 week period.
While mean IOP was comparable in both groups at baseline (P =.079), group 1 experienced a greater decrease in IOP compared with group 2 (23.05±1.17 mm Hg to 19.15±1.45 mm Hg and 22.55±0.98 mm Hg to 22.37±1.07 mm Hg, respectively, both P =.001). Overall, 50% of participants in group 1 had an IOP reduction of 15 to 20% from baseline, and 23.33% had a reduction of more than 20% compared with only a negligible reduction in group 2.
Researchers also noted significant improvements in perfusion, density, flux index, and quality of life in group 1 (39.71±8.05% to 42.05±8.31%; 16.98±2 mm/mm2 to 18.17±2.36 mm/mm2; 0.39±0.04 to 0.42±0.03; 85.23±3.89 to 93.40±3.25, respectively, all P =.001) compared with minimal changes in group 2 (37.60±6.33% to 37.23±5.62%, P =.36; 16.75±2.63 mm/mm2 to 16.78±2.6 mm/mm2, P =.878; no change, P =.277; and 86.27±3.66 to 86.23±3.28, P =.891, respectively).
“For every 1 mm Hg IOP reduction, the risk of glaucoma progression has been reported to decrease by 10%,” according to the researchers. “With a mean IOP reduction of 3.9 mm Hg in group 1 of our study, mindfulness-meditation stands as a strong protective factor against disease progression.”
Study limitations include convenience sampling, short duration, and reliance on self-reporting to ensure compliance with follow up instructions.
Dada T, Mondal S, Midha N, et al. Effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction on IOP in patients with ocular hypertension: a randomized control trial. Am J Ophthalmol. Published online February 1, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.ajo.2022.01.017