Yoga for Glaucoma

Submitted by Kevin Pederson on March 19, 2013

Glaucoma is an eye condition characterized by the damage of the optical nerve tissues and excavation of the optic nerve head. As per a journal article published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world and is the one of the common causes for irreversible blindness.

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In this condition, there is loss of peripheral vision at first, and then the central vision is diminished gradually, resulting in the complete loss of vision. Glaucoma poses a higher challenge than cataracts because the vision loss in the former case is irreversible.

Yoga for Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs due to the rise in the intraocular pressure or the pressure of the fluid inside the eyes.


This increased pressure eventually damages the optic nerve, which acts as the connection between the retina of the eye and the brain. There are three different theories that describe how intraocular hypertension damages the optical nerve fibers.

  • Mechanical damage: The increased fluid pressure directly compresses the nerve fibers and damages them.
  • Apoptosis: This is the dying out of the cells due to the completion of lifespan.
  • Ischemic theory: The raised intraocular pressure damages the optical nerve by hindering the normal blood circulation.

There may be varied symptoms of glaucoma. Some people may not also experience any symptoms until they feel like they are losing vision. The symptoms may be any one or the combinations of the following:

  • Pain in the eyes
  • Headache
  • Appearance of rainbows around the lights
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea

Though yoga can be considered as one of the natural ways to enhance the psychological condition and well being of the patients suffering from glaucoma, proper practice according to the recommended standards under the supervision of a qualified yoga instructor is very necessary.

Yoga poses to practice

Some of the yoga postures that may be helpful for glaucoma are

  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  • Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose)
  • Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)

Yoga poses to avoid

Glaucoma patients should avoid any type of yoga poses that include inverted or head down positions. This is because this can contribute to the increase in the intraocular pressure. Also, any type of vigorous yoga steps should not be performed as it can result in the release of pigment from the iris and this further increase the pressure inside the eye. The yoga poses such as Sirasana (Head Stand) and Bikram Yoga (in case of pigmentary glaucoma) should be avoided.

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