Leisure and sports

Regular physical activity is just as important to the glaucoma patient as is proper relaxation and adequate amounts of sleep.

Physical activity tends to cause a decrease, rather than an increase, in the eye pressure (intraocular pressure). There are a few exceptions to this (see below).

People with glaucoma who already suffer from a visual field defect should be made aware of their condition. For example, these defects could result in a ball not being seen in time when playing tennis or an approaching danger going unnoticed when bike-riding.

Preventative measures, such as a laser iridotomy or administering pilocarpine before exercise, can avert an IOP rise. Sports are also recommended for patients with very low systemic blood pressure to help stabilize the body's circulation. 

Scuba diving

Swimming or snorkelling in shallow water, will only lead to minor changes in eye pressure (intraocular pressure). Glaucoma patients who plan to scuba dive should first consult their ophthalmologist. Someone having advanced optic nerve damage should probably refrain from diving.


Saunas can also be enjoyed without concern. The eye pressure (intraocular pressure) reacts just the same in glaucoma patients as in healthy subjects: it decreases in the sauna and then returns to original levels within about an hour. However, there is no proof that saunas are beneficial in glaucoma.


Playing a wind instrument may lead to a temporary increase in the eye pressure (intraocular pressure). Glaucoma patients who play these instruments should discuss this with their ophthalmologist.


People with pigmentary-dispersion glaucoma can experience a significant rise in the eye pressure (intraocular pressure) following physical activity. But, even a patient with this special form of glaucoma should be able to participate in sports.