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Learning More About Stress and My Eye Pressure

Submitted by dave on Wed, 11/08/2006 - 10:59pm

Today my eye pressure was about perfect. Here are the overall averages:

Left 15.1; Right 13.7 (differential -1.4)

CelebrationI couldn't ask for much more. These are some of the best numbers I've seen. My right eye's IOP, which is usually the higher (and consequently, my right eye has greater nerve damage and more problems in the visual field tests) was lower than the left. It has been 3 days since I used Timoptic in my right eye, but I believe the effects of the Timoptic are continuing.

Just a few days ago my IOP values were running high. What caused the change? Obviously, I don't know exactly what caused the change, but I can guess. I think the effects of the stressful business meeting on 2-Nov may have influenced my IOP for several days afterwards: through 7-November, it seems.

For the first time ever, I used Timoptic two nights in a row (4-Nov and 5-Nov) because my IOP was elevated, especially in my right eye. At that point, the Timoptic appeared not to be working very well.

I'm speculating that now, after a break from the recent stress, the effect of the Timoptic I used 3 days earlier is evident. That probably isn't the explanation my physicians would offer, but that's how things appear to me. When my medical team reviews the data further, I'll post additional comments if anything interesting comes up.

Equally as important, I made every effort today to avoid the things that I know raise my IOP and to do the things that lower my IOP. You'll see an example of this at 9:06 PM. As soon as I noticed myself feeling some stress in that activity (from a disagreement), I stopped and had an IOP check. I saw it was elevated and I made a conscious decision to quickly smooth out the work disagreement. Next I took a break and did 10 minutes of weight lifting. The results were very favorable.

As you can see, my IOP increased about 5 points when I got into the unpleasant work situation, and it decreased more than 5 points by the time I had finished my 10 minute workout. If I had continued with the contentious situation, as I would have in the past, my IOP would have stayed elevated and I'm sure it would have gone higher - into the 20's. Past data seems to support this statement. Today's good IOP certainly is not from the Timoptic alone - I haven't used it in 3 days. Lifestyle and stress management were big keys today. The data at 10:53 AM strongly supports this view. I'm sure my IOP could have stayed in the 20's all day if I have not taken all the stress management steps I took today.

I also think the stress management steps I took over the last few days may have been cumulative. Past experience seems to indicate that if I have a full week of stress, for example, and then I do some positive things for one day, my IOP will not respond immediately like it did today. 

Lately, I've been wondering how long the IOP-lowering effects of weight lifting might last under ideal conditions. I think today sheds some light on that question. It is interesting to note that my IOP didn't go back up, after 11:45 AM workout, until 9:00 PM, and then it only went up because of stress. I have seen a couple examples like today where the effects appear to last most of the day, provided I control my stress. I have also seen examples where the positive effects are shorter lasting - just as I recently saw examples of Timoptic being less effective when my stress was higher.

As you see, I had extremely good IOP values today. I managed my attitude and my stress better than I do on most days. I took a lot of breaks from work, and I worked out with weights twice. I don't feel like I can do those things every day...

On the other hand, I don't have any doubt that this routine works for me. It helps lower my IOP. Given what that means for my future visual health, it is easier to make the choices I need to make. I'd rather have my sight than have a hugely successful business, if business success means I can't take frequent breaks from work like I did today. However, recognizing these priorities is one thing. Putting them into action and accepting the financial consequences is another thing.


Time Left Right SD L SD R Comments
9:05 18.0 20.0 2.646 4.359  
9:09 16.0 17.3 1.000 1.528  
10:53 23.3 17.3 0.577 2.309 Working at computer. Concerned about outcome of an important project. (Felt stress.)
11:08 17.7 14.0 0.577 0.000 After brushing teeth. Did some deep breathing.
11:14 17.3 13.3 2.082 0.577  
11:37 16.7 13.7 1.528 0.577 After 5m playing with my dog, 5m Bates long swing, 3m relaxing breathing
12:02 14.3 12.7 1.155 0.577 10 min following weight lifting (10m session, back, biceps)
12:25 14.8 13.3 0.837 0.577 After shower.
13:34 15.3 15.0 1.528 1.732 After discussing the status of the new business venture with my wife (who isn't involved in it).
15:07 14.0 11.3 1.000 0.577 After doing some easy, non-mental work.
16:26 14.0 13.0 1.000 0.000 Continued this easy work.
17:39 15.0 13.0 1.732 2.000  
17:41 12.0 13.0 1.000 1.000 Repeated measurements, relaxing/breathing this time.
17:58 13.7 14.0 2.082 1.000 After playing with my dog for 5m.
18:07 12.7 12.0 0.577 0.000 After Bates long swing.
18:25 14.3 11.3 0.577 0.577 Reading and relaxing.
21:06 18.7 16.0 0.577 2.646 Working at computer. Disagreeing with someone.
21:21 13.3 12.3 1.528 1.528 Took measurement within 30s of dropping the weight on the last exercise. Took right IOP first (got an 11).
21:25 11.0 11.3 0.000 0.577 Repeated measurements after catching my breath.
22:10 16.0 13.7 1.000 0.577  
22:54 17.0 13.3 2.000 1.155  
22:57 15.3 13.0 0.577 1.000 Relaxing breathing.
23:49 12.3 12.7 0.577 0.577 Working on computer - enjoyable work.
23:57 12.0 11.0 1.000 0.000 Relaxing breathing.

    Xalatan in each eye
0:15 12.3 14.0 1.528 2.000 After laying down 10-15m.
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