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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Could yoga effect my macular degeneration?

    I am 58 years old and am an Iyengar yoga devotee and am training to be a teacher.

    This yoga involve inversions, forward bends and back bends.

    I have dry MD in one eye and WET in the other.

    I was having Lucentis injections but have now changed to another type and the Lucentis was not effective. I have not lost any vision as yet.

    I have recently been advised by a Senior Iyengar teacher( who has no training in eye disease) that I should no longer do the majority of poses due to macular degeneration.

    As yoga is my life and has amazing benefits on other illness and injuries I have this pronouncement has a huge impact.

    Could you please provide me with your professional opinion. Would macular degeneration be affected by strenuous poses and inversions.
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    I am an optometrist with over 30 years of clinical experience and several post-graduate qualifications. I prescribe treatments for a wide range of eye conditions.I … View Profile

    I am not sure what an inversion is, but the Yoga position of most concern would be the sirsasana (headstand position) which can cause a significant rise in intra-ocular pressure (IOP) and may contribute to glaucomatous vision loss. 

    This increase in IOP may be the result of vascular engorgement and increased choroidal volume, which may have implications for your wet macular degeneration given that wet macular degeneration is (basically!) a result of new choroidal vessels invading the retina and subsequently leaking. Choroidal changes as a result of the headstand position could therefore have an adverse impact on your wet maculopathy.

    My advice would be to avoid doing headstands and consult your eyecare practitioners for their advice on other positions regarding your wet macular degeneration. They should aslo take your yoga into consideration when assessing your ocular health status regarding any changes to IOP which may affect your ocular health.

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    Eyescan Toorak provides complete eyecare services including ophthalmology, optometry and optical dispensing in the one location. Early detection of eye disease helps prevent sight loss.Forest … View Profile

    Thanks John,

    I would also add that at your age a partial posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is quite possible and headstands can induce some extra vitreo-retinal traction or stress with unwanted consequences.

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