Chronic experimental glaucoma in primates. II. Effect of extended intraocular pressure elevation on optic nerve head and axonal transport.Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1980 Feb; 19(2):137-52.IO
Intraocular pressure (IOP) elevations lasting from 2 to 42 days were produced in 13 primate eyes by anterior chamber injections of autologous, fixed red blood cells. The retina, optic nerve head, and optic nerves were studied by electron microscopy, and ganglion cell rapid axonal transport was examined after IOP elevations for various durations. Transport of axonal material was blocked at the scleral lamina cribrosa by IOP elevations to 50 mm Hg. With IOP elevation for less than 1 week, return to normal IOP restored normal transport in some axons. However, in other axons IOP elevation for less than 1 week intiated ganglion cell degeneration. The process of cellular death involved a rapid ascending degeneration from nerve head to brain, followed 3 to 4 weeks later by descending degeneration of the ganglion cell body and its attached axon. Axons of the superior and inferior optic nerve head and nerve seem to be damaged more extensively than those in the nasal and temporal optic nerve. Two to four days after IOP elevation, axons of the superficial optic nerve head were swollen with accumulating axonal material, leading to histologic disk edema. In those eyes with IOP elevation longer than 1 week, the loss of anterior disk nerve fibers combined with posterior and lateral movement of the lamina cribrosa lead to an increase in optic disk cupping. Astrocytes and capillaries of the optic nerve head seem to tolerate elevated IOP well and were relatively spared.