Wellness magazines and websites often promote meditation and mindfulness as healthy activities for the mind and body. Some people swear that these practices have transformed their lives.

But can breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation have any effect on vision health?

Today, we look at what science has to say about the link between mindfulness meditation and eye health. We also highlight a few accessible meditation practices.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is the practice of focusing your mind to improve attention and awareness and achieve calm. Although meditation has been associated with certain religions, notably Buddhism, it can be performed as a secular practice.

Meditation takes many forms. You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor to meditate. Meditation doesn’t require any special gear, or that you complete a meditation course, although plenty of meditation courses are available today both online and in wellness centers and spiritual retreats.

A common misconception about meditation is that it involves clearing your mind of all thoughts. However, it's more about focusing your mind on one thing at a time such as observing your thoughts or your breathing.

The idea behind this is that the mind can only hold a limited number of items in attention at a time. For example, if you’re following your breathing, you’re less likely to let your mind jump from one thought to another.

One of the easiest ways to begin meditating is by becoming mindful.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment and your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. It's a popular form of meditation because it’s accessible to everyone everywhere. 

two hands with long warm sleeves holding daisy flowers against blurry background

You don’t have to reserve time for mindfulness. You can become mindful at any moment, during any activity you’re performing, or while you’re resting or relaxing.

Meditation and Mindfulness Effects on the Eyes

A study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology found that mindfulness-based stress reduction lowered intraocular pressure in patients with ocular hypertension after six weeks of treatment.

Ocular hypertension can occur with age, after an eye injury, or as a reaction to certain drugs. It can lead to glaucoma, a major cause of vision loss. Initially, it may not come with any symptoms and so can pass unnoticed. 

Meditation may also reduce stress. It achieves this by creating a space between your thoughts and reactions that enables your mind to free itself from accumulated stress. 

Chronic stress can contribute to the development of glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, and can have far-reaching effects on the rest of the body. Mental stress may even lead to vision loss

Another potential benefit of meditation for the eyes is indirect. By improving awareness and focus, meditation can make you more aware of the signals your eyes are sending you – such as when they are tired or dry – so that you can take a break or seek appropriate treatment.

Thoughts, emotions, and stress also play a role in how patients with dry eye disease cope with their condition. Meditation can influence the mental attitude that a person with dry eye syndrome has and, by doing so, enable them to better manage their condition.

In addition to its effects on vision health, meditation has a host of health benefits including improving sleep, boosting memory and focus, increasing compassion toward self and others, and reducing high blood pressure.

It's also worth noting that a 2017 study found that a meditation practice did not have any effect on spontaneous eye blink rate. In this study, researchers investigated the effects of an 8-week-long mindfulness stress reduction program.

They concluded that a longer meditation practice may be necessary for it to improve the eye blink rate. Blinking rate has been associated with dry eye disease and computer vision syndrome.

Types of Meditation

Meditation is a broad term that refers to many different practices. Some of these practices aim to improve focus and attention while others may build acceptance, resilience, and calm. Here are a few popular and accessible meditation and mindfulness practices. 

  • Mindfulness meditation – Bringing together focus and awareness, this form of meditation encourages you to observe your thoughts without holding on to them. 
  • Visualization meditation – Visualizing peaceful scenes or images can put you in a good mood and bring a feeling of calm and relaxation. 
  • Loving kindness meditation – This popular form of meditation focuses on mentally embracing yourself and others unconditionally. You practice it by sitting still, focusing your mind on yourself or another person, and appreciating the person you hold in your mind and sending them well wishes.
  • Guided meditation – The voice of another person can guide your meditation session. This form of meditation can be especially appealing for people new to meditation who are not sure where to start.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) – One of the most studied forms of meditation, MBSR can reduce stress and pain. It typically comes in the form of a program that combines mindfulness, breathing, and yoga practices. 
woman sitting cross-legged on the floor with palms together meditating

Good to know: It’s possible to combine different types of meditation. For example, you can do mindfulness meditation and breathing meditation at the same time under the guidance of a meditation teacher – in other words, perform guided mindfulness meditation.

How to Meditate

As we’ve seen, meditation takes many forms, some of which may be better suited for you than others. If you’ve never meditated before, you may feel unsure about how to learn to meditate.

Here are a few ways you can start meditating – try a few of them and then develop a regular practice around the technique that suits you best.

  • Walking meditation – A form of mindfulness meditation, walking meditation is about bringing awareness to your steps. Feel the ground under your feet as you walk and open yourself to the other stimuli around you – birds in the trees, cars in the distance, smells and other sensations.
  • Simple breathing meditation – Sit in a chair or on a cushion with your back straight and breathe slowly and deeply but naturally, without straining yourself. Follow your breath as it enters your body through your trachea into your lungs and then leaves your body as you exhale. If it helps, count each time you exhale. Allow your thoughts to come and go without holding on to any of them. 
  • Loving kindness mediation – Find a quiet and comfortable space to sit down in. Keeping your back straight, close your eyes and direct kindness toward yourself by repeating several times the phrase “May I be happy.” Then continue to direct kindness to family, friends, a neutral person, a difficult person, a group (like your coworkers), and everyone else on the planet. 

Try to practice for at least 15 minutes every day. Consistent practice is the key to taking advantage of the health benefits of meditation.

The Wrap Up

Scientific research shows that a daily meditation practice is good for the eyes and health in general. It can reduce stress and the risk of serious eye diseases.

Alongside eating a healthy diet, sleeping well, and exercising, meditation can be a natural way to safeguard your vision in the years to come.

A natural eye health supplement like SightC can also be part of a holistic approach to improving vision health. Informed by over 30 years of clinical experience in treating patients with eye problems, SightC is a natural way to nourish and protect your eyes.

Learn more about SightC.

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