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Pamela E. Jeter, Gislin Dagnelie, Ava K. Bittner; Yoga As A Treatment Modality For Persons With Severe Visual Impairment: A Feasibility Study. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):5576.
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Effective treatments are needed to mitigate patients’ disease-related secondary symptoms that often result in significant distress, morbidity, and reduced quality of life. Individuals with severe visual impairment experience secondary symptoms such as stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Mind-body treatments have been shown to be a viable intervention for improved sleep disturbances and mood in healthy individuals or those with other chronic diseases. This preliminary study aims to establish the feasibility of a yoga protocol as a therapeutic intervention for improving sleep disturbances, negative psychosocial states, and balance in legally blind retinal disease patients.
Five legally blind participants included 1 male, 2 subjects with retinitis pigmentosa, 1 with Acute Retinal Necrosis, 1 with retinopathy of prematurity, and 1 with nystagmus/congenital blindness, with a mean age of 48 ± 12.6 years. They convened for one session per week with an instructor and were asked to perform two home-based practice sessions per week using an audio CD, for a total of 8 weeks. Assessments included the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), and Beck Depression Index (BDI). All measures were administered immediately before and after the yoga intervention was completed. A Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test was performed to determine whether there was a significant change in scores from baseline to post-intervention.
Results were evaluated for 4 subjects. One subject was excluded from the analysis because she failed to follow the home practice instructions and missed 2 classes during the 8-week intervention. The results were marginally significant for all psychosocial questionnaires (PSQI (global): z = -1.84, p = 0.07, PSQI (sleep onset latency subscale): z = -1.6, p = 0.11, PSS: z = -1.83, p = 0.07, BAI: z = -1.83, p = 0.07, BDI: z = -1.6, p = 0.11). Most importantly, all scores showed the same trend, i.e., towards reduced negative symptoms across subjects after the yoga intervention.
This pilot study was not powered to detect statistically significant effects, yet these are promising results that warrant further investigation with more subjects and an active control protocol. Based on these preliminary findings we are designing a study evaluating yoga as a effective intervention to improve quality of life in persons with severe visual impairment and disease-related secondary symptoms.
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