Study finds weightlifting link to glaucoma

The following article was originally posted on Tuesday September 12, 2006.

Holding your breath while weightlifting causes temporary increases in eye pressure that could raise the risk of developing one form of glaucoma, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the Catholic University of Brasilia in Brazil said they reached the conclusion with a test of 30 men aged 18 to 40 whose intraocular (in the eye) pressure was measured while they were bench pressing.

None had glaucoma; but the study, published in the September issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, found that eye pressure increased during the breath-holding done as part of the training.

It said normal-tension glaucoma is more common in individuals who are subjected to frequent changes in eye pressure. That variety of glaucoma is one where the eye disease develops even though eye pressure when measured in routine checks appears to be normal.

It is also more common among people who play high-resistance wind instruments or those with asthma or intestinal or urinary tract obstructions that cause them to strain in a way that increases eye pressure.

"Prolonged weightlifting could be a potential risk factor for the development or progression of glaucoma. Intermittent intraocular pressure increases during weightlifting should be suspected in patients with normal-tension glaucoma who perform such exercises," the authors concluded.

The increased eye pressure that marks glaucoma damages the optic nerve leading to sight loss and possible blindness.

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

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