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Bard

Lifting and glaucoma

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Hi everyone,

 

I've been lifting on and off for a couple of years now (since I found this great site!)  I'm now trying to get back into it but I've hit an unexpected roadblock - medically apparently I'm not supposed to!

 

I have had glaucoma since I was 14 (a by product of the surgery for my congenital cataracts).  Essentailly glaucoma is too much pressure in the eye because the fluid in the eye doesn't drain properly.  The primary way of controlling it is with eye drops and they've been working for me for about 25 years (I'm now 40).

 

I came across an article the other day saying that lifting heavy weights, pushups and head down yoga poses are all bad.  The further reading I did on the subject indicated that one of the big issues with lifting is holding your breath although one site did word it in such a way that it indicated lifting itself was bad for eye pressure and the fact that you hold your breath just makes it worse.

 

On the positive side running (which I also love) actually decreases eye pressure so that's something but I'm wondering if anyone has any knowledge / experience or perhaps knows a doctor with experience in both glaucoma and fitness, who might be able to advise what else I can do aside from run to get fit which won't also hurt my eyes?

 

If anyone is interested, the research I've done has turned up the following studies:

 

This Japanese study indicates that exercise such as walking, jogging
 or running decrease intra-ocular pressure so are quite beneficial for
 glaucoma: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jjphysiol/45/4/45_4_561/_article
 
 This British study indicates the same thing but goes on to say that
 "Exercises in which you stand on your head or shoulders or invert your
 body - as in upside-down yoga positions, scuba diving and bungee
 jumping - should be avoided as they can raise IOP. Exercises in which
 you inhale and then hold your breath - as in weightlifting - appear to
 have a negative impact on IOP as well.":
https://www.glaucomafoundation.org/news_detail.php?id=154
 
 That at least explains some of the reasoning behind cutting out lifting weights.
 
 And this one comes up with the same conclusions:
http://www.fmshk.org/database/articles/03mb4_13.pdf

 

Kind regards

 

Bard

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I am no medical professional, and all my coaching certifications have expired some years ago,* so please take the following with a grain of salt.

Lifting weights does indeed increase blood pressure, and the valsalva maneuvre extremely so. But this is temporary - blood pressure is elevated only during the time your are actually doing the exercise. Afterwards, blood pressure goes back to normal. There seems to be some evidence that this is actually beneficial, and that weight training promotes health of arteries and venes, which leads to a reduction of blood pressure in the long run. 
Also, you can always do some long, slow cardio on your off days (which lowers blood pressure and iop alike). That might counteract some of the adverse effects of weightlifting,
Note that I have no idea if/how IOP and blood pressure are really linked, but if they are, weightlifting might be additional stress in the short term, but be beneficial in the long run. I just honestly do not know. If I were you, I'd be keen to find a way to keep weight lifting in the program, because I would rather not want to miss out on the numerous health benefits of weight training. 

But then, I do not fully understand the link between blood pressure and iop (besides that they feel intuitively linked. Bro science at it's best.) As always: don't just trust the random guy from the internet, Please discuss this with your doctor (preferably one to be knowledegable about eyes and who does sports himself), before you end up doing something stupid. 



*(DOSB certifications are valid for four years only, after that, you have to take part in regular refresher courses to renew them. Due to my duty schedule and familiar reasons, I never had time for that...)

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