Corneoscleral stiffening increases IOP spike magnitudes during rapid microvolumetric change in the eye
Factors governing the steady-state IOP have been extensively studied; however, the dynamic aspects of IOP are less understood. Clinical studies have suggested that intraocular pressure (IOP) fluctuation may be associated with glaucoma risk. This study aims to investigate how stiffening of corneoscleral biomechanical properties affects IOP spikes induced by rapid microvolumetric change. Porcine eyes (n = 25 in total) were subjected to volumetric infusions before and after external treatment of a circular area (11 mm diameter) in either the central cornea or posterior sclera. The treated area in the control group was immersed in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) for 40 min, while the treated area of the chemical crosslinking group was immersed in 4% glutaraldehyde/PBS for 40 min. A subset of the sham-treated eyes was also subjected to volumetric infusions at a raised steady-state IOP. The magnitude of IOP spikes increased after localized chemical crosslinking of either the cornea (27.5% increase, p < 0.001) or the sclera (14.3% increase, p < 0.001) with corneal crosslinking having a stronger effect than scleral crosslinking (p = 0.018). We also observed that raising the steady-state IOP from 15 to 25 mmHg resulted in marked increase in IOP spike magnitudes by 63.9% (p < 0.001). These results suggested that an increased corneoscleral stiffness could significantly increase IOP spike magnitudes at the same volumetric change. Corneal stiffness appeared to have a strong impact on the IOP spike magnitude and may play a major role in regulating rapid volume-pressure dynamics. An increase in steady-state IOP also resulted in larger IOP fluctuations due to the increased “apparent” stiffness of the ocular shell, suggesting a potential interaction between the magnitude of IOP and its fluctuations. Corneoscleral properties may represent additional pathways for understanding and managing glaucoma risk and warrant future investigation.