Pilot study of musculoskeletal pain in ophthalmologists following participation in a fifteen-minute online Iyengar yoga program

Main Article Content

Michelle E. Akler, MD
Kevin T. Eid, MD
Amanda Herrera, MD


To evaluate the prevalence of musculoskeletal (MSK) complaints in ophthalmologists and to assess whether participation in an online Iyengar yoga video program improves the baseline pain scores and awareness of proper posture in the clinic and operating room.
Ophthalmologists were recruited from online professional forums for this nonrandomized, prospective study. A pre-intervention survey, including demographics, office and procedure volumes, wellness activities, and baseline MSK pain scores, was completed. A fifteen-minute instructional video focusing on simple yoga poses for the neck, shoulder, and lower back created by one of the authors, who is both an ophthalmologist and a certified Iyengar yoga teacher, was provided to participants to complete three times weekly for a total of 4 weeks. A post-intervention survey collecting MSK pain scores and information about ergonomics and compliance was completed.
Fifty ophthalmologists completed the pre-intervention survey, of whom 49 (98%) reported at least 1 episode of MSK discomfort in the preceding year. Of those, discomfort was cervical in 36 (72%), in the shoulder(s) in 15 (29%), thoracic spinal in 23 (46%), lumbar spinal in 23 (46%), and centered in the wrist, hand, or finger in 22 (44%). Of the 50 ophthalmologists, 22 submitted the post-intervention surveys. The post-intervention pain scores were decreased compared to baseline for cervical spine (P < 0.01), shoulder (P < 0.01), thoracic spine (P < 0.01), lumbar spine (P < 0.01) and wrist, hand, or finger (P < 0.01). 20 respondents (91%) reported improved awareness of their posture in the clinic and operating room, and 19 (86%) felt that this awareness would decrease their MSK symptoms.
Among our small group of survey respondents, a fifteen-minute Iyengar yoga video program specifically designed for ophthalmologists reduced MSK pain and improving awareness of proper ergonomics for practicing ophthalmologists.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Akler, MD ME, Eid, MD KT, Herrera A. Pilot study of musculoskeletal pain in ophthalmologists following participation in a fifteen-minute online Iyengar yoga program. Digit J Ophthalmol. 2024;30(1):5-10. doi:10.5693/djo.01.2023.12.002
Original Articles


Kaup S, Shivalli S, Kulkarni U, Arunachalam C. Ergonomic practices and musculoskeletal disorders among ophthalmologists in India: an online appraisal. Eur J Ophthalmol 2020;30:196-200. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1120672118815107

Tan NE, Wortz BT, Rosenberg ED, Radcliffe NM, Gupta PK. Digital survey assessment of factors associated with musculoskeletal complaints among US ophthalmologists. Clin Ophthalmol Auckl NZ 2021;15:4865-74. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2147/OPTH.S341516

Al-Marwani Al-Juhani M, Khandekar R, Al-Harby M, Al-Hassan A, Edward DP. Neck and upper back pain among eye care professionals. Occup Med Oxf Engl 2015;65:753-7. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqv132

Diaconita V, Uhlman K, Mao A, Mather R. Survey of occupational musculoskeletal pain and injury in Canadian ophthalmology. Can J Ophthalmol 2019;54:314-22. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcjo.2018.06.021

Kitzmann AS, Fethke NB, Baratz KH, Zimmerman MB, Hackbarth DJ, Gehrs KM. A survey study of musculoskeletal disorders among eye care physicians compared with family medicine physicians. Ophthalmology 2012;119:213-20. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2011.06.034

Schechet SA, DeVience E, DeVience S, Shukla S, Kaleem M. Survey of musculoskeletal disorders among US ophthalmologists. Digit J Ophthalmol 2021;26:36-45. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5693/djo.01.2020.02.001

Iyengar BKS. Light on Yoga. New York City: Schoken Books; 1976.

Iyengar BKS. Light on Pranayama: The Yogic Art of Breathing. New York City: The Crossroad Publishing Co; 1989.

Cramer H, Lauche R, Langhorst J, Dobos G. Is one yoga style better than another? A systematic review of associations of yoga style and conclusions in randomized yoga trials. Complement Ther Med 2016;25:178-87. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2016.02.015

Williams K, Abildso C, Steinberg L, et al. Evaluation of the effectiveness and efficacy of Iyengar yoga therapy on chronic low back pain. Spine 2009;34:2066-76. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181b315cc

Williams KA, Petronis J, Smith D, et al. Effect of Iyengar yoga therapy for chronic low back pain. Pain 2005;115:107-17. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pain.2005.02.016

Streeter CC, Gerbarg PL, Whitfield TH, et al. Treatment of major depressive disorder with Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing: a randomized controlled dosing study. J Altern Complement Med N Y N 2017;23:201-7. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2016.0140

Streeter CC, Gerbarg PL, Brown RP, et al. Thalamic gamma aminobutyric acid level changes in major depressive disorder after a 12-week Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing intervention. J Altern Complement Med N Y N 2020;26:190-7. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2019.0234