Weight Lifting Temporarily Spikes Intraocular Pressure

Study suggests that regular weight lifting could increase the risk of developing glaucoma

MONDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Weight lifting may cause temporary increases in intraocular pressure, especially when the breath is held during exercise, and prolonged weight lifting may be a risk factor for the development or progression of glaucoma, according to the results of a study published in the September issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Geraldo Magela Vieira, M.D., of the Institute of Specialized Ophthalmology and UNIPLAC School of Medicine in Brasilia, Brazil, and colleagues studied 30 glaucoma-free men aged 18 to 40. The researchers measured right-eye intraocular pressure after subjects held their breath during the last repetition of a bench-press exercise and measured left-eye intraocular pressure after subjects breathed normally throughout the exercise.

During the breath-holding exercise, the researchers found that intraocular pressure increased in 27 (90 percent) of subjects by an average of 4.3 mm Hg. During the normal-breathing exercise, they found that pressure increased in 18 (62 percent) of weight lifters by an average of 2.2 mm Hg.

"Intermittent intraocular pressure increases during weight lifting should be suspected in patients with normal-tension glaucoma who perform such exercises," the authors conclude. "Further studies are under way in older subjects, those with many years of weight lifting experience, and those with glaucoma. Patients with normal-tension glaucoma should be questioned as to a history of regular weight lifting."

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