David's Method: research into non-medical factors, remove medication as a variable
One key defining characteristic of my approach is that it is research-oriented with a focus on discovering non-medical factors that affect intraocular pressure. In order to achieve this goal, I hold my glaucoma medication constant. Otherwise I would not be able to clearly see the effect of non-medical factors (such as stress management, exercise, diet, or supplements) in my data.
My long range goal is to reduce or eliminate glaucoma medications and to substitute them with lifestyle factors such as Serene Impulse (a meditation technique that I have found to be very helpful in managing my own intraocular pressure), exercise and the other things I usually discuss on my FitEyes.com blog. With my focus on non-medical approaches to managing intraocular pressure, I effectively remove glaucoma medication from any significant role in my research by holding it to non-changing level.
With the influence of glaucoma medication neutralized, I then aggressively search for non-medical factors that influence intraocular pressure by monitoring my IOP frequently while also monitoring other physiological parameters such as end-tidal carbon dioxide, SpO2, perfusion index, heart rate variability (HRV), galvanic skin response (GSR), respiration rate, breathing style, skin temperature and any others that are within my capabilities. I institute practices that are designed to alter the paramters I am monitoring and I carefully track intraocular pressure changes as a result of my experimental manipulations.
I am no longer the only person taking this approach to self-tonometry. Multiple FitEyes members are doing their own versions of this approach. It is not necessary to have any special equipment (such as the examples I mentioned above) other than your tonometer.
One of the most productive ways to go about this type of self-tonometry is to check your intraocular pressure before and after (and during, if possible) various activities. For example, check your IOP before and after walking.
If you keep good records (which the FitEyes software will help you do), and you test one thing at a time, you can conduct very product self-experimentation simply by monitoring your eye pressure before and after (and during, if possible) various activities.
For a period of time (e.g., weeks), try not to make big changes in your life. Then engage in the activity, record your IOP, and after enough repetitions of the activity, look for trends in your IOP. Is your eye pressure usually higher, lower or unchanged during and after the activity?
The be even more confident in your observation, take a little break (e.g., a few weeks) and do it again. Do you get the same results?
Next you can check another activity, such as, for example, gardening or weight lifting (with good technique and proper breathing) or drinking wine. All of those can lower intraocular pressure.
Doing experiments with dietary supplements takes a little more planning. With activities you are looking for short-term IOP changes before and after the activity (or duing it). With dietary supplements you have to look for a trend that manifests over months. It's still a "before and after" type of experiment, but it takes more time to complete. It's still a good idea to repeat an experiment with dietary supplements more than once.
To get an idea of which dietary supplements to test for intraocular pressure reduction, please ask a question here.
There's one more level we can explore in this type of research. Once you know the effect this activity has on your intraocular pressure, you can ask yourself (or your tonometer) if there is a way to alter the outcome.
In the following blog post I discuss my finding that walking more slowly was more beneficial:
Doing things slowly in a fast world | FitEyes.com
I found that when I tried to be productive during my walk (such as planning my tasks, or talking on the phone, or even walking at a faster pace to improve the cardiovascular benefits) I lost some or all of the benefits to my intraocular pressure. In fact, even though walking generally reduces intraocular pressure, if I engage in certain "productive" activities while walking, I can sometimes have higher IOP after the walk!
My experiments led me to find that walking at a slower pace, enjoying the sights and sounds around me, and not engaging in any directed thinking was the best way to manage my eye pressure.
Another example is weight lifting. Some glaucoma specialists caution against weight lifting for glaucoma patients. However, I have found it to be an incredibly valuable tool in my personal intraocular pressure management toolbox. It can reduce my IOP to a greater degree and faster than many glaucoma medications.
However, in order to achieve these good results I had to learn to habitually practice proper breathing techniques during my weight lifting. When I use good techniques on my exercises, a good order of exercises and good breathing, weight lifting is fantastic for lowering my IOP. In contrast, a naive evaluation of weight lifting could lead one to dismissing it as an activity that raises IOP -- it can do that if you strain, hold your breath, or do a few other things that I consider improper technique for a glaucoma patient who is weight lifting.
It is true that those of us living with glaucoma can achieve better eye pressure management by avoiding certain activities and emphasizing others. It is also true that we can discover which activites are best and worst for us though self-tonometry. However, my examples highlight that we can go one step further if we wish: we can consider not just the activities we do, but also how we perform those activities.
For example, most of us have found that exercise lowers our intraocular pressure. However, many FitEyes members have reported that in a "desperate attempt" to lower IOP with exercise while in a worried state of mind, it does not work. That's a more extreme example of me trying to be "productive" while I walk.
My final example might be the most extreme. I have found that I can do activities that are considered "bad for IOP" but if I do them in a mindful or meditative state of mind, I can mitigate or eliminate any harmful effects on my IOP. An example of this is inverted yoga postures. We are warned repeatedly not to do these. But I have measured my IOP while in an inverted yoga posture and found that I can avoid a significant increase in IOP by using the techniques I learned from Serene Impulse meditation.