Glaucoma patients who sleep with their heads elevated had an overnight IOP up to 20% lower than that of patients who sleep lying flat, according to a study in the July issue of Ophthalmology. The researchers determined that 16 out of 17 patients (94%) had lower IOP measurements while sleeping in a 30°-elevated position than while sleeping completely flat. Specifically, patients’ mean IOP measurement was 3.2mm Hg lower while in the elevated position.

“The study results are not terribly impressive, because there are too many confounding variables and unanswered questions,” says Joseph W. Sowka, O.D., professor and director of the glaucoma service at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry. “Bottom line—there is not enough information here to compel me to suggest such a major lifestyle change to my glaucoma patients,” Dr. Sowka says. “I mean, who wants to sleep upright?”