Posted 10.23.2018 | by AMRA
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness that affects 65 million people worldwide. It is caused by increased fluid buildup inside of the eye (intraocular pressure) that results in progressive damage to the optic nerve. Psychological stress is known to increase several glaucoma risk factors (oxidative stress, inflammation, glutamate toxicity, and vascular dysregulation) while simultaneously reducing several protective factors (neurotrophins and glial activity). This finding has led some to wonder whether stress reduction interventions might benefit glaucoma patients.
Dada et al. [Journal of Glaucoma] conducted a randomized, controlled study to test if a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) could reduce intraocular pressure and affect psychological stress-related biomarkers as well as alter gene expression in glaucoma patients.
The researchers randomly assigned 90 patients (average age = 57 years; 55% male) with moderate-to-severe glaucoma to either a MBI or a wait-list control group. MBI participants engaged in daily hour-long teacher-led group sessions for 21 consecutive days. The sessions included 15 minutes of slow-breathing exercises followed by 45 minutes of mindfulness meditation. Attrition rate was 18% in the MBI group and 7% in the wait-list control group.
Intraocular pressure was assessed pre- and post-intervention, as were biomarkers of psychological stress (cortisol and β-endorphins), inflammation (IL-6 and TNF-α), oxidative stress (the imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants as measured by ROS and TAC), and a protein that protects nerve cells (BDNF). Whole blood RNA was assessed for post-intervention differences in gene expression, and participants completed the World Health Organization Quality of Life Questionnaire.
MBI participants showed a significant 6 mmHg reduction in intraocular pressure, while controls only decreased by about 1 mmHg. Seventy-five percent of the participants who completed the MBI reduced […]