The impact of ocular hemodynamics and intracranial pressure on intraocular pressure during acute gravitational changes

Academic Article


  • Nelson ES, Mulugeta L, Feola A, Raykin J, Myers JG, Samuels BC, Ethier CR. The impact of ocular hemodynamics and intracranial pressure on intraocular pressure during acute gravitational changes. J Appl Physiol 123: 352–363, 2017. First published May 11, 2017; doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00102.2017.—Exposure to microgravity causes a bulk fluid shift toward the head, with concomitant changes in blood volume/pressure, and intraocular pressure (IOP). These and other factors, such as intracranial pressure (ICP) changes, are suspected to be involved in the degradation of visual function and ocular anatomical changes exhibited by some astronauts. This is a significant health concern. Here, we describe a lumped-parameter numerical model to simulate volume/pressure alterations in the eye during gravitational changes. The model includes the effects of blood and aqueous humor dynamics, ICP, and IOP-dependent ocular compliance. It is formulated as a series of coupled differential equations and was validated against four existing data sets on parabolic flight, body inversion, and head-down tilt (HDT). The model accurately predicted acute IOP changes in parabolic flight and HDT, and was satisfactory for the more extreme case of inversion. The short-term response to the changing gravitational field was dominated by ocular blood pressures and compliance, while longer-term responses were more dependent on aqueous humor dynamics. ICP had a negligible effect on acute IOP changes. This relatively simple numerical model shows promising predictive capability. To extend the model to more chronic conditions, additional data on longer-term autoregulation of blood and aqueous humor dynamics are needed. NEW & NOTEWORTHY A significant percentage of astronauts present anatomical changes in the posterior eye tissues after spaceflight. Hypothesized increases in ocular blood volume and intracranial pressure (ICP) in space have been considered to be likely factors. In this work, we provide a novel numerical model of the eye that incorporates ocular hemodynamics, gravitational forces, and ICP changes. We find that changes in ocular hemodynamics govern the response of intraocular pressure during acute gravitational change.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 20201977
  • Author List

  • Nelson ES; Mulugeta L; Feola A; Raykin J; Myers JG; Samuels BC; Ross Ethier C
  • Start Page

  • 352
  • End Page

  • 363
  • Volume

  • 123
  • Issue

  • 2