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    Evidence-based answers to lifestyle questions on glaucoma

    As patients are turning to the Internet for health and medical information, ophthalmologists are increasingly facing the need to separate myth from fact on a variety of disease-related issues.

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    Yvonne Ou, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology, University of California-San Francisco, reviewed the scientific evidence regarding the effects of various lifestyle practices on glaucoma and intraocular pressure (IOP). Dr. Ou shared the advice she offers to patients on these topics during the Glaucoma Symposium CME at the 2016 Glaucoma 360 meeting. 

    Exercise

    Results from a number of studies indicate that aerobic exercise is associated with IOP lowering, and according to the findings of a meta-analysis [Clin J Sport Med. 2014;24(5):364-72], the change is greater among sedentary individuals than those who were already active and independent of exercise duration or intensity.

    More: Check out a recap from the 2016 Glaucoma 360 gala!

    “Based on this evidence, I encourage my patients to get moving, especially if they are not already,” said Dr. Ou. “For those who feel they cannot incorporate exercise into their lifestyle, I tell them that any kind of movement, even walking, may be beneficial. However, I also tell them they have to maintain their regimen because there is evidence showing as well that the effect of exercise on IOP does not persist when deconditioning occurs.”

    Dr. Ou added that advising patients to find an exercise partner is helpful as it can be a motivator for starting and adhering to an exercise program. In addition, it can enable patients with impediments to exercising, such as reduced visual acuity or visual field defects, to be more active.

    Another common exercise-related concern pertains to the effect of head-down yoga poses on IOP. While it is already known that shoulder stands or headstands increased IOP, a recent study evaluating the effects of four common yoga positions on IOP was recently published [PLoS ONE. 201;10(10):e0144505].

    Diet

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