To determine the ocular manifestations of inverting the human body into a head-down vertical position, we evaluated normal volunteers with applanation tonometry, fundus photography, fluorescein angiography, and ophthalmodynamometry. Compared with data obtained in the sitting position, the intraocular pressure more than doubled on inversion (35.6 ±4 v 14.1±2.8 mm Hg, n=16), increasing to levels well within the glaucomatous range. Pressures in the central retinal artery underwent similar increases, while the caliber of the retinal arterioles decreased substantially. External ocular findings associated with gravity inversion included orbital congestion, conjunctival hyperemia, petechiae of the eyelids, excessive tearing (epiphora), and subconjunctival hemorrhage. We suggest that patients with retinal vascular abnormalities, macular degeneration, ocular hypertension, glaucoma, and similar disorders refrain from inversion altogether. Whether normal individuals will suffer irreversible damage from inversion is uncertain, but it seems prudent to recommend that prolonged periods of inverted posturing be avoided.
Friberg TR, Weinreb RN. Ocular Manifestations of Gravity Inversion. JAMA. 1985;253(12):1755-1757. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350360081023