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Wind Instrument Musician & Eye Care

June 8, 2015

There’s an old saying that music sooths the soul. Its mastery and control of any single instrument often requires a lifetime of dedicated effort and practice. It is often accompanied by a lifetime of aches and pains, many which are preventable with proper technique.

Janet Horvath (2002) in Playing (less) Hurt: An Injury Prevention Guide for Musicians notes that “Studies have shown that playing wind instruments can increase pressure in the eye. This increase is greater in high-resistance instruments such as an oboe, bassoon, French horn and trumpet… According to research recently published in the journal Ophthalmology, “The cumulative effect of long-term intermittent intraocular pressure elevations during high-resistance instrument playing may be sufficient to create long-term damage to the eye” (p. 114).

A June 2011 report in Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmologyconfirmed these earlier findings. The report noted that “During the study, brass instrument players showed significantly higher eye pressure and blood pressure after playing high and middle frequency tones, while woodwind instrument players experienced increases only for high frequencies,” and that “Playing a 10-minute exercise produced temporary eye pressure increases in both groups, but playing a sustained high-pitch note produced significantly higher eye pressure only in the brass musicians.”

The researchers concluded that professional wind instrument players are at higher risk of developing glaucoma and should be monitored for the disease. This is where the professionals at Londonderry Eye Care can help by providing regular examinations for intraocular pressure before damage occurs.

Dr. Mann graduated with a Doctor of Optometry in 1998 from the New England College of Optometry and then joined Londonderry Eye Care team. He realizes the magnitude of responsibility in caring for the wellbeing of his patients’ eyes and with his music hobby, the importance of good eye care for musicians – hobbyist and professionals alike.

While routine eye exams can monitor for potential damage, proper technique can also assist in preventing damage. “For all musicians, poor position can affect your vision. Be careful about your head and neck angle and the placement of your music stand. It is essential to maintain neutral neck positions to minimize eye strain” (Horvath, 2002, p. 114).

For further assistance, contact our caring staff and expert optometrists to answer all of your questions to provide you the clear vision you deserve. To book your appointment call Londonderry Eye Care today at 780–476-7631 or online at