Greater intraocular pressure (IOP) values are observed when reading in the supine position in comparison with the sitting position, and thus, it should be considered by eye care specialists for the management of glaucoma patients or those at risk.
IOP is sensitive to near work and body position, however, the influence of the body position adopted while performing near tasks remains unknown. This study aimed to assess the IOP changes induced by reading on a smartphone in sitting and supine position, and to explore whether these IOP changes differ between men and women.
Twenty-four healthy young adults (12 men and 12 women) read a text on a smartphone placed at 30 cm for 25 minutes while lying down and sitting in 2 different days. A rebound tonometer, which allows assessing IOP in the supine position, was used to measure IOP before reading, during reading (5, 15, and 25 min), and after 5 minutes of recovery. Complementarily, the authors checked the level of sleepiness/alertness before reading, and the perceived levels of fatigue and discomfort after reading.
The data showed that reading induces an IOP rise [P<0.001, partial eta squared (ηp2)=0.44]. These effects were more accentuated when reading in the supine position in comparison with the sitting position (P=0.019, ηp2=0.23) with an increment of 2.4 mm Hg (14%) and 1.3 mm Hg (8%) after 25 minutes of reading, respectively. The IOP rises associated with reading did not differ between men and women (P=0.127). Participants reported greater levels of discomfort in the neck and back when reading in the sitting position (P=0.012, ηp2=0.25).
The IOP rises associated with reading are greater when it is performed in the supine position in comparison with the sitting position. The present findings indicate that reading in the supine position should be discouraged in individuals who should avoid IOP increments or fluctuations.