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List of all the things that affect eye pressure

Submitted by dave on Fri, 04/23/2010 - 12:30am

I'd like to ask everyone with a tonometer and good eye pressure data to contribute comments to this post. What factors have we identified that affect eye pressure? I'm going to start the list informally with things that come off the top of my head. I'll revise and refine this list based on feedback from people with tonometers and good data. Thank you!

Reduces Eye Pressure

UPDATE: I am concerned about this post being misleading. For example, exercise does not reduce intraocular pressure for everyone. There are some people who find that almost any exercise, even something gentle like Tai Chi, increases their eye pressure. Therefore, generic rules of thumb like this are never appropriate for a specific individual. The only appropriate way to proceed is to measure your IOP accurately.

If you don't measure, you don't know. And when you don't know, it is quite possible that the things you think are helping are doing the opposite. Tai Chi -- for one individual -- is a good example. As a general rule, I believe Tai Chi is helpful. But if this individual had not measured his eye pressure for himself, he could have been misled into thinking that Tai Chi was reducing his IOP when it was actually raising it. And it is unlikely that one would ever discover this effect from regular in-office eye exams.

For now the informal, incomplete list will remain, but only with the caveat that nothing on this list is a prescription for any individual. The most we can say is that these things are ideas you can verify for yourself with a tonometer! And, with a tonometer, you may learn how to make many of these things work in your favor, even if they do not immediately produce the results for you that they have for others. With the feedback from an accurate tonometer, we can often discover fascinating things that work to our benefit.

  • bliss in the physiology
  • power centers energized (e.g., root chakra, dan tien, etc. )
  • a quiet, settled mind (an easy absence of thinking)
  • aware embodiment
  • specific styles of breathing (probably impossible to specify or learn without interaction with a tonometer)
  • good posture
  • proper effective stress management
  • Serene Impulse (probably because it can help accomplish all the above items on this list)
  • Tai Chi or Qigong (for at least one person)
  • slow mindful walking (seems to work for everyone)
  • sunlight (maybe)
  • certain types of exercise (or, for some people, any exercise!)
  • certain relaxation exercises (including gratitude journaling) (for at least one person)
  • playing with pets (several people)
  • spending enjoyable time in the company of family and friends (for at least two people)
  • laughing
  • goofing off a bit, not working hard, taking the pressure off ourselves
  • yawning and pandiculating (maybe - is it transitory?)
  • glaucoma medications (but even this doesn't work for everyone!)

Elevates Eye Pressure

  • too much thinking
  • too much energy in the head (whether from meditation or too much thinking)
  • psychological stress -- See Stress and Eye Pressure - Solving The Equation and Does Stress Increase Eye Pressure For Everyone?
  • attachment and aversion
  • reification, hypostatizing (see Byron Katie's Work)
  • disembodiment or trance-like states (as in meditation)
  • poor posture which leads to neck tension or constricted breathing
  • head forward postures
  • inverted postures
  • sleeping (with at least two execptions in our group, neither of whom actually have glaucoma)
  • lying down (again, with exceptions)
  • neck tension, facial tension (or tension anywhere in the body)
  • poor breathing
  • most meditation techniques - See Intraocular Pressure and Transcendental Meditation
  • fasting, skipping meals (for at least one person)
  • dietary amines -- free gluatamates, histamines, tyramines (for at least one person) -- See Effect of Diet and Other Environmental Factors on IOP an editor's choice!
  • darkened room effect
  • caffiene (according to some reports)
  • junk foods (white sugar, white flour, desserts, etc.) (for at least one person)
  • winter season (for several people) -- See Weather and IOP?
  • deadlines and time pressure
  • excitement with attachment (e.g., watching our favorite sports, etc.) -- See Watching Tour de France Raises IOP
  • and a long list of many other things, a lot of which are totally unexpected and are only revealed by actually measuring with a tonometer
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