Home Mental Health & Well-Being Meditation and Breathing Exercises Show Promise in Managing Vision Loss

Meditation and Breathing Exercises Show Promise in Managing Vision Loss

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A recent study published in the British Journal of Visual Impairment suggests that meditation and breathing exercises can significantly improve the quality of life for patients with vision loss. The research, conducted by a team from the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University and the Melbourne Medical School, highlights the potential of these practices to reduce stress, lower intraocular pressure (IOP), and enhance overall well-being in individuals suffering from vision impairments.

The study is a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing literature on the subject. The researchers, Edward Tran, Mohamed Aly, Nirmit Shah, and Vivian Phu, analysed data from multiple sources, including MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CINAHL databases. Their objective was to assess the impact of meditation and breathing exercises on various health parameters in patients with vision loss.

The findings of the study are promising. Meditation and breathing exercises were found to significantly reduce IOP in glaucoma patients, which is a crucial factor in managing the condition. The meta-analysis showed an effect size (ES) of –1.76 (95% CI = [–2.69, –0.83]) for IOP reduction. Additionally, the mean deviation of Humphrey visual field (HVF) testing also showed improvement with an ES of –0.20 (95% CI = [–0.37, -0.03]).

The study also noted significant decreases in stress-related biomarkers such as cortisol and reactive oxygen species (ROS), with ES values of –0.73 (95% CI = [–0.25, –2.22]) and –2.45 (95% CI = [–4.20, –0.71]), respectively. Furthermore, there were notable increases in beta-endorphins (ES = 28.60, 95% CI = [25.61, 31.59]), which are associated with improved mood and pain relief.

Beyond the physiological benefits, the study highlighted improvements in the quality of life for patients engaging in these practices. Participants reported better physical fitness, enhanced mood, and overall well-being. This is particularly significant, as vision loss can lead to severe emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, and social isolation. By reducing these negative psychological states, meditation and breathing exercises help patients better cope with their condition.

The study followed rigorous protocols for systematic reviews and meta-analyses, including a comprehensive search strategy and a robust risk-of-bias assessment. Studies were selected based on strict inclusion criteria, and data were extracted and analysed using advanced statistical methods. The researchers used both fixed-effect and random-effect models to account for heterogeneity across the included studies.

The mechanisms by which meditation and breathing exercises exert their benefits are not entirely understood but are believed to involve the reduction of stress and inflammation. Stress is known to exacerbate many health conditions, including glaucoma, by increasing IOP and causing vascular dysfunction. Meditation and breathing exercises reduce the physiological stress response, which in turn may lower IOP and improve blood flow to the eyes.

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