Intraocular pressure


Image result for slogan for 10th anniversary related to chemistry Intraocular pressure

Intraocular pressure (IOP) is the fluid pressure inside the eye. Tonometry is the method eye care professionals use to determine this. IOP is an important aspect in the evaluation of patients at risk of glaucoma. Most tonometers are calibrated to measure pressure in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

Intraocular pressure is measured with a tonometer as part of a comprehensive eye examination.

Influencing factors

Daily variation

Intraocular pressure varies throughout the night and day. The diurnal variation for normal eyes is between 3 and 6 mmHg and the variation may increase in glaucomatous eyes. During the night, intraocular pressure may not decrease, despite the slower production of aqueous humour. In the general population, IOP ranges between 10 and 21 mm Hg with a mean of about 15 or 16 mm Hg (plus or minus 3.5 mm Hg during a 24-hour cycle). Glaucoma patients' 24-hour IOP profiles may differ from those of healthy individuals.

Fitness and exercise

There is some inconclusive research that indicates that exercise could possibly affect IOP (some positively and some negatively).

Musical instruments

Playing some musical wind instruments has been linked to increases in intraocular pressure. A 2011 study focused on brass and woodwind instruments observed "temporary and sometimes dramatic elevations and fluctuations in IOP".Another study found that the magnitude of increase in intraocular pressure correlates with the intraoral resistance associated with the instrument, and linked intermittent elevation of intraocular pressure from playing high-resistance wind instruments to incidence of visual field loss. The range of intraoral pressure involved in various classes of ethnic wind instruments, such as Native American flutes, has been shown to be generally lower than Western classical wind instruments.


Intraocular pressure also varies with a number of other factors such as heart rate, respiration, fluid intake, systemic medication and topical drugs. Alcohol and marijuana consumption leads to a transient decrease in intraocular pressure and caffeine may increase intraocular pressure. Taken orally, glycerol (often mixed with fruit juice to reduce its sweet taste) can cause a rapid, temporary decrease in intraocular pressure. This can be a useful initial emergency treatment of severely elevated pressure.

The depolarising muscle relaxant succinylcholine, which is used in anaesthesia, transiently increases IOP by around 10 mmHg for a few minutes. This is significant for example if the patient requires anaesthesia for a trauma and has sustained an eye (globe) perforation. The mechanism is not clear but it is thought to involve contraction of tonic myofibrils and transient dilation of choroidal blood vessels. Ketamine also increases IOP.




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Journal of optometry : open access