• Written By:
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Glaucoma

    This prospective analysis explored whether mindful meditation can lower IOP and normalize stress biomarkers in patients with open-angle glaucoma.

    Study design

    The trial included 90 patients with primary open-angle glaucoma who were randomized 2 groups. The treatment group took part in daily hour-long meditation sessions at 8 a.m under the guidance of a meditation instructor for 21 days. The second group served as controls. Both groups continued taking topical IOP-lowering medication.

    Participants were monitored for IOP, quality of life [World Health Organization Quality of Life Instruments (WHOQOL-BREF)], and typical biomarkers that have been associated with stress (cortisol, β-endorphins, IL6, TNF-α, BDNF, ROS, TAC).

    Outcomes

    Patients who participated in meditation had marked reduction in IOP (OD: 18.8 to 12.7, OS: 19.0 to 13.1 mm Hg), reduced stress-related serum biomarkers and reported significantly improved quality of life after the 3-week session. These changes correlated with gene-expression profiling. The effects were not observed in the control group.

    Limitations

    This was not a double-masked study; however, the intervention did result in clinically significant findings. The WHOQOL-BREF metric is not specific to glaucoma.

    Clinical significance

    When patients ask what else they can do for their glaucoma besides taking their drops and coming to their appointments, glaucoma practitioners are often at a loss. This study suggests the possibility that complementary medical strategies like mindfulness meditation may play a role in helping patients cope with their disease and may actually improve outcomes.