Can Stress Cause Glaucoma?
Stress affects everyone at some point or another. You may notice your stress levels rising when you’re under a lot of pressure or in an overwhelming situation.
While stress isn’t always a bad thing, it can have a physical impact on your body. Stress plays a role in various problems, including skin conditions, headaches, heart problems, and high blood pressure. However, the link between stress and the eyes, particularly eye pressure, is not fully understood.
Chronic stress is not a known risk factor for primary open-angle, or wide-angle, glaucoma. This is the most common type of glaucoma, caused by a blockage in the eye’s drainage system, which creates a slow rise in intraocular pressure.
However, stress has the potential to trigger an attack of acute angle-closure glaucoma. Unlike open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency characterized by symptoms such as sudden pain and foggy vision.
Fighting Glaucoma with Mindfulness Meditation
Some studies have suggested that psychological stress can increase eye pressure. The relationship is not known, though it may be that certain hormones and chemicals released during times of stress can affect receptors in the eye.
It stands to reason, then, that stress reduction may be useful for glaucoma management. One study examined the IOP in patients with primary open-angle glaucoma before and after participating in daily 60-minute meditation sessions for 21 days. It found that “75 percent of the patients who practiced meditation had a more-than 25 percent drop in eye pressure.” A second group, that did not meditate, experienced no significant change in IOP.
The takeaway is that you shouldn’t be overly concerned about developing glaucoma due to stress alone. However, if you’re at risk for glaucoma, particularly angle-closure glaucoma, taking steps to manage your stress may help. And if you have glaucoma, stress reduction techniques combined with proven therapies may aid in managing this disease.
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