Sepideh Heydar Zadeh, MS

Training Manager, Vision Science Academy, United Kingdom

Clinical Research Coordinator, UCLA, USA


Vision Science Academy Exclusive



Glaucoma is a multifactorial optic degenerative neuropathy where the optic nerve connecting the eye to the brain gets damaged. It occurs when fluid building in the front of an eye increases the pressure inside it. It is common among adults who are in their 70’s or 80’s, If glaucoma goes undiagnosed, it can lead to vision loss. (1) The degeneration of retinal ganglion cells and retinal nerve fibre changes the optical nerve head. It is reported to be the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. Its types include primary and secondary glaucoma having two major subtypes each: open-angle and angle-closure. Almost 57.5 million people worldwide have primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), having a global prevalence of 2.2%. Primary angle-closure glaucoma (PACG) is not common, affecting only 0.17% of individuals below 40 years. (2)

How Does Physical Exercise Work for Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is treated by a therapeutic approach that reduces intraocular pressure (IOP). (3) Physical exercises are beneficial for glaucoma. Intraocular pressure (IOP) plays a significant part in the progression of glaucoma. Various studies have shown a reduction in IOP due to consistent activities ranging from walking to exhausting exercise. (4) It has been reported that IOP lowers after exercise, but researchers do not know the exact mechanism behind it. However, convincing theories suggest it is due to decreased blood pH, elevated blood plasma osmolarity, and elevated blood lactate. (5)

Effect of Exercise on Glaucoma Patients Proven by Research

Robert MD at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary states, “If it is (physical activities) good for your heart, it is good for glaucoma. If it is good for your brain, it is good for glaucoma”.

The IOP reduces to 2.78 mmHg after 10 minutes and 4.90 mmHg after 5 min of exercise, independent of the use of antiglaucoma agents. So, glaucoma patients who do physical activities regularly tend to have a lower IOP than those who did not perform any exercise. (6)

Exercises such as walking, cycling, or work-out on stationary machines for at least 30 to 45 minutes 3-4 times a week have proven to lower IOP and improve blood flow towards the brain and eyes. It has been found in a recent study that significant moderate-to-vigorous physical activity slows the rates of the visual field (VF) in glaucoma patients. (7) A study by Agrawal et al. grouped newly diagnosed glaucoma patients into three. Two groups received medical treatment, whereas the third group exercised an average of 30 minutes daily with equal treatment. The group performing exercises had lower IOP and better visual quality after 30 days. Yoga exercises may or may not be helpful for glaucoma patients depending on the type of positions. One like a ‘headstand’ or ‘facing a dog’ increases IOP instead of decreasing it. Although swimming is a healthy sport, wearing swimming goggles increases IOP, whereas the diving mask used in scuba diving has not been found to affect IOP. In bungee jumping, the inertia causes blood to rush to the top of the head, increasing the hydrostatic pressure inside the eye vessels. (6)

Overall, exercise is proven beneficial for glaucoma patients. But precautions must be taken as some activities can do more damage, i.e., weightlifting. Walking and cycling are encouraged for patients as it lowers the intraocular pressure in the eye. To finalise, one can say moderate exercises done regularly show results that have long-lasting effects.



  1. Glaucoma: An introduction. (n.d.). TheraSpecs.
  2. Allison K., Patel D., & Alabi O. (2020). Epidemiology of glaucoma: The past, present, and predictions for the future. Cureus.
  3. Sankalp, Dada, T., Yadav et al. (2018). Effect of yoga-based ocular exercises in lowering of intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients: An affirmative proposition. International Journal of Yoga.
  4. Natsis K., et al. (2009). Aerobic exercise and intraocular pressure in normotensive and glaucoma patients. BMC Ophthalmology.
  5. McMonnies, C. W. (2016). Intraocular pressure and glaucoma: Is physical exercise beneficial or a risk? Journal of Optometry.
  6. Zhu, M. M. et al. (2018). Physical exercise and glaucoma: a review on the roles of physical exercise on intraocular pressure control, ocular blood flow regulation, neuroprotection and glaucoma-related mental health. Acta Ophthalmologica.
  7. Dietze, J., et al. (2022). Glaucoma. StatPearls.