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Can An Emotional Movie Elevate Your Eye Pressure?

Submitted by dave on Mon, 11/05/2007 - 1:33pm


Two nights ago my wife and I watched a movie on DVD called "I Am David." The movie has an overall customer review rating of about 4.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon -- but more importantly, it was highly recommended by the Spiritual Cinema Circle. My wife and I have decided to watch only uplifting or positive movies, and the recommendation from Spiritual Cinema Circle indicated that this movie fit our criteria.

Quite a few customers on Amazon have written reviews containing strong praise for this movie. Here is one example:

5.0 out of 5 stars  Heartwarming, July 23, 2007
Very few child actors move me the way this kid did in "I Am David". I forgot I was watching a movie because the boy came across so realistically. A wonderful story that would make the most "macho" of men shed a tear.

The movie did indeed cause me to shed a tear. However, I would not classify this as a stressful or violent movie at all. Here is part of another review that gives more of the flavor of the movie:

This is a movie that is so full of the human spirit that you can't help but cry and be moved. This is a movie that didn't need gratuitous sex scenes, foul language and endless violence to make it amazing, just raw human emotion about a young boy who is trying to find life... I recommend this movie to anyone who want to watch a movie with their entire family!

You can read all the reviews and purchase the movie through Amazon using this affiliate link. 

I Am David

In fact, I'm going to propose an informal experiment involving this movie for everyone who has the ability to perform home tonometry or self-tonometry. Keep reading.

I have been paying attention to the effect stress -- and stressful movies -- can have on my intraocular pressure. I have noticed that stressful or exciting media (including movies, TV shows and sporting events) will often (usually) raise my eye pressure.

To my surprise, this movie also raised my intraocular pressure from the low teens (around 12-14) to the low 20's!

On this weekend day, I spent much of the afternoon shopping with my wife. However, through the use of a portable tonometer I was able to collect research data on my intraocular pressure throughout the afternoon of shopping. My eye pressure never left the 12-14 range - in fact, it was always 14 in my left eye and 12 in my right eye.

Back at home in the evening, before watching this movie, I again checked my eye pressure with one of the most accurate tonometers in the world. My eye pressure remained in the same range it had been all afternoon.

Immediately upon finishing this movie (which I thoroughly enjoyed) I checked my intraocular pressure and it was 19 in my left eye and 20 in my right eye. Not believing the results, I repeated the IOP measurements several more times and I even obtained some readings as high as 21mmHg!

There can be no doubt that this movie raised my intraocular pressure. How many of you who have your own tonometers would be willing to repeat this entertaining little experiment? 

The movie, I Am David, is certainly worth watching. One critic called it the "best movie of the year." So this informal IOP experiment should also be fun and entertaining while also giving us further insight into the role of emotions on intraocular pressure.

My eye pressure results after watching this movie were so unexpected that I am very curious to see if we can gain some insights into the reason.

It is becoming clear that the relationship between how we feel and our intraocular pressure isn't simply a linear relationship where more "bad" stress equals higher intraocular pressure. I have repeatedly documented that watching my favorite sports events can raise my eye pressure when the game is close or exciting.


Nearly a year ago I wrote this blog post about the relaxing activities I can do that will raise my eye pressure. For even longer than that I have been carefully watching the effect of emotions on eye pressure and attempting to catalog which types of emotions have positive or negative effects on intraocular pressure. I think this movie, I Am David, will lead to further insights because it is a particularly emotional movie as well as being a PG-rated family movie. I look forward to feedback from anyone else who watches this movie, particularly those who can measure their eye pressure before and after watching it. 

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