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Pathophysiology of Glaucoma and Continuous Measurements of Intraocular Pressure

Arthur J. Sit*, John H.K. Liu

* Department of Ophthalmology,Mayo Clinic, Rochester
Corresponding Author. John H.K. Liu, PhD, Department of Ophthalmology, University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92130. Phone: (858) 534-7056, Fax: (858) 534-7014, E-mail:

Molecular & Cellular Biomechanics 2009, 6(1), 57-70.


Glaucoma is a leading cause of visual impairment and blindness worldwide. The main risk factor for glaucoma is an elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), which is also the only currently treatable risk factor. Despite its importance, our understanding of IOP is incomplete and our ability to measure IOP is limited. IOP is known to undergo both random fluctuations as well as variations following a circadian pattern. In humans, IOP is highest at night and lower during the daytime, largely due to changes in body position, although other factors appear to contribute. In rabbits, IOP is also highest at night and lower during the day, likely due to circadian variations in sympathetic nervous system activity. Random and circadian IOP variations may be important to glaucoma pathogenesis, independent of the diurnal IOP level. However, due to limitations with current IOP measurement technology, clinical practice typically involves only a few IOP measurements per year. As well, current technology does not allow 24-hour monitoring of pressure without the use of sleep laboratories or hospital admission. Two strategies for automating IOP measurement are temporary (non-invasive) monitoring and permanent (implantable) monitoring. Efforts at developing devices to allow continuous IOP monitoring have occurred for over 40 years without producing a clinical device. Current technological progress would seem to suggest that such devices are possible at this time, and a review of previous attempts provides guidelines for their development.

Cite This Article

Sit, A. J., Liu, J. H. (2009). Pathophysiology of Glaucoma and Continuous Measurements of Intraocular Pressure. Molecular & Cellular Biomechanics, 6(1), 57–70.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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