What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises, leading to vision loss - or even blindness. This is about open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease.
What causes it?
At the front of the eye, there is a small space called the anterior chamber. Clear fluid flows in and out of the chamber to bathe and nourish nearby tissues. In glaucoma, for still unknown reasons, the fluid drains too slowly out of the eye. As the fluid builds up, the pressure inside the eye rises. Unless this pressure is controlled, it may cause damage to the optic nerve and other parts of the eye and loss of vision.
Who is most likely to get it?
Although anyone can get glaucoma, some people are at higher risk. They include:
Everyone over age 60.
People with a family history of glaucoma.
Blacks over age 40.
What are the symptoms?
At first, there are no symptoms. Vision stays normal, and there is no pain.
However, as the disease progresses, a person with glaucoma may notice his or her side vision gradually failing. That is, objects in front may still be seen clearly, but objects to the side may be missed. As the disease worsens, the field of vision narrows and blindness results.
How is it detected?
Tonometry is the only method of accurately determining intraocular pressure; palpation is not reliable. normal intraocular pressure is 10 to 21 mm Hg.
This test alone cannot detect glaucoma.
How can it be treated?
Although open-angle glaucoma cannot be cured, it can usually be controlled. The most common treatments are:
Medications: These may be either in the form of eye drops or pills. Some drugs are designed to reduce pressure by slowing the flow of fluid into the eye. Others help to improve fluid drainage.
For most people with glaucoma, regular use of medications will control the increased fluid pressure. But, these drugs may stop working over time. Or, they may cause side effects.
Laser surgery: During laser surgery, a strong beam of light is focused on the part of the anterior chamber where the fluid leaves the eye. This results in a series of small changes, which makes it easier for fluid to exit the eye. Over time, the effect of laser surgery may wear off. Patients who have this form of surgery may need to keep taking glaucoma drugs.
Surgery: Surgery can also help fluid escape from the eye and thereby reduce the pressure. However, surgery is usually reserved for patients whose pressure cannot be controlled with eye drops, pills, or laser surgery.
The progression of glaucoma is monitored with regular visual field tests and optic nerve photography.
Yoga & Glaucoma
Yoga is a complete science, focusing on breathing, movement, posture and meditation. Specific exercises are taught consisting mainly of simple stretching, breathing and relaxation. There is a wealth of scientific research available confirming that advanced yogis have remarkable control over the functioning of their nervous system, heart and lungs.
Dr Segal author of the best-selling 'Love, Medicine and Miracles' cites the research of Dr Herbert Benson showing that meditation tends to normalise blood pressure, pulse rate, and the level of stress hormones in the blood. It produces changes in brain wave patterns, showing less excitability and improves the white blood cell (immune) response as well as hormone response.
Researchers have also reported that stress may play a significant part in the precipitation of acute closed-angle glaucoma because intraocular pressure (IOP) can be affected by the emotional state of a patient. One study (1) considered the evidence and found stress to be a significant factor in the etiology of acute closed-angle glaucoma and they also noted that there is a growing suspicion concerning the role of stress in open-angle glaucoma as well. The report stated that there is evidence that glaucoma is associated with psycho physiological stress and that stress reduction might prevent angle closure and reduce the IOP. The suggested methods for achieving these results included biofeedback, meditation, and relaxation exercises.
Tratakas form the mainstay in the yogic management of glaucoma. The Asanas to be avoided include all inverted postures such as Sirsasana, Sarvangasana, Halasana and Mastyasana. Others that may increase the intraocular pressure are Dhanuransana and Cakrasana and hence they need to be avoided.
Kapalabhati,vamanadhouti are also to be avoided.
The basic set of simple Asanas which relaxes the body mind complex are to be practiced for half hour followed by sectional breathing, Nadishudhi, and Seetkari pranayama.
Then comes the Tratakas with deep breathing followed by Nadanusandhana for about 20 minutes.. Stress management through the practice of cyclic meditation and happiness analysis to modify the life style to carry on working with joy and contentment under all circumstances are essential components of IAYT.