Signs of Glaucoma in Rhesus Monkeys from a Restricted Gene Pool

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To investigate the distribution of intraocular pressure (IOP) and cup properties in a colony of rhesus monkeys that has had no outside genetic input since 1938 (approximately 12 generations). This sample of sequestered monkeys is significantly larger than any previously reported. Comparisons are made with a sample of random-source monkeys to develop population estimates defining the limits of normalcy.


The IOP and cup/disc ratio estimates were collected from 701 eyes of 354 adult rhesus monkeys from the closed colony on Cayo Santiago. Puerto Rico. Results for IOP were compared with the normal rhesus IOP population distribution function calculated from an earlier sample of genetically heterogeneous rhesus.


The mean ± standard deviation IOP in the Cayo Santiago monkeys (15.8 ± 3 mmHg) related well to the calculated “normal” rhesus distribution (14.5 ± 2 mmHg) below and around the mean IOP only. Above the mean rhesus IOP, the samples from the Cayo monkeys were strongly skewed: 129 eyes had IOP more than two standard deviations above the normal mean IOP, and 54 eyes had IOP more than three standard deviations above the normal mean IOP. Cup/disc ratio estimations tended to cluster as higher values in the higher IOP quartiles. Some eyes with IOP below the mean had cup/disc ratios > 0.5. Values for IOP that were more than two standard deviations above the mean and cup/disc ratios > 0.4 were not uniformly distributed across social groupings, although incidence of high IOP was more than 25% in one group.


After 12 generations with the same genetic pool, expression of ocular hypertension and large optic disc cups is high but not uniform.

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