Rubbing your eyes likely to damage vision

October 29th, 2008 - 3:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 29 (IANS) Routine activities like wearing swim goggles, sleeping face down or doing a gym workout may contribute to glaucoma that damages the optic nerve and leads to blindness, according to a new study.”The fluid pressure inside the eye increases - or spikes - during many everyday activities,” said Charles McMonnies, a professor at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) School of Optometry and Vision Science.

“Eye rubbing, yoga head stands, weightlifting, sleeping face down, playing instruments like the trumpet and swimming laps are some of the many ways of causing eye pressure spikes,” McMonnies said.

Any touching of the eye through the eyelids raises pressure: light touch causes a small increase but firm touch can cause a spike three to five times normal pressure, he says.

Wiping a watery eye and removing eye make-up both increase eye pressure, partly because they involve eye closure combined with lid contact.

In the case of eye rubbing, the combined effects of eye closure and rubbing forces on the eye can raise pressure to very high levels; strong rubbing may raise pressure to 10 times normal levels.

“Normally these pressure spikes are of little consequence and healthy eyes appear to be unaffected by them. But eye-pressure spikes that are large, and/or last a long time, and/or occur frequently, may contribute to the progression of pressure-related eye diseases.”

These diseases include glaucoma - which affects a large proportion of elderly people and can lead to blindness - and rapidly increasing myopia, or short-sightedness. Rarer pressure-related conditions include keratoconus, or conical cornea, said a UNSW release.

“Avoiding sleeping with the eyes in contact with a pillow or sleep mask may help to slow the progression of pressure-sensitive eye diseases,” he says.

These findings have been published in Optometry and Vision Science.

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