Hello there Doctor
Could you please tell me, as I have heard different opinions, whether inverted yoga positions (like downward-facing dog) can cause retina problems? Some people tell me it is good for the eyes, as it nourishes them with blood. But others say that the rise in blood pressure can cause hemmorrages or detachments.
Thank you in advance.
Hello Patricia61 The eye gets plenty of blood flow without standing on your head. Any exercise or activity where your head is below your heart increases arterial and venous pressure in the head and eyes. The lower the head below the body the greater the pressure. Maxium increase = standing on head with feet straight up. For healthy people standing on their head for a few minutes isn't a problem. If someone has glaucoma, diabetic eye diesease, is a glaucoma suspect, has had a retinal detachment, has retinal tears or weak spots, etc. I would advise against standing on their head, gravity boots (now pretty much out of fashion) or extremely heavy weight lilfting.
For people with high blood pressure or weak blood vessels in their head (aneurysms-usually people are NOT aware of these) these activities could theoretically cause a stroke.
I am totally pro-exercise and most other forms are perfectly acceptable, even disireable for most people. Best best ask your personal physician and ophthalmologist.
Thank you so much doctor. I don't actually do headstands but i do do other inverted postures about three times a week as well as lifting light weights and using weight machines twice a week. I do not have glaucoma or diabetes but I really wouldn't know if i have any retinal weak spots. I do have migraines with aura though. Would you advice a person in my position not to do these activities (I am 40 years old and in good health, as far as I know)?
Sometimes when I do headstands for yoga, I get tiny blood spots on the skin around my eyes. They usually last a couple of days and the fade away. Is this something I should be worried about? Should I stop doing headstands, even though my yoga instructor says it's one of the most beneficial poses you can do?
I appreciate any insight you can give me.
You don't say much about your age or your general state of health. I would stop doing the handstands. They increase the pressure in your eyes which can be a problem for a patient with glaucoma and they increase the pressure in the small capillaries and veins of the outer eye and skin which are breaking under the pressure caused by the head down-feet up position.
Tell you yoga instruction I won't teach yoga, she should stop practicing ophthalmology.
Thank you for your response, Dr.
To answer your question, I am 36 years old, slim and in great health. The blood spots don't happen to other people in my yoga class, including my husband. Are some people just more inclined to have this happen to them? I bruise very easily. Do you think it just sounds like my skin is very delicate? (I'm also fair-skinned.)
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