Measurements of pulsatile ocular blood flow (POBF) have been recorded in a group of healthy, ocular normotensive volunteers and ocular hypertensive patients recruited from outpatients. Use of a pneumotonometric probe linked to a Langham ocular blood flow system enabled readings of intraocular pressure and its variation with heart rate (ocular pulse) to be taken in erect and supine positions. Pulsatile ocular blood flow was calculated from these values by means of the pressure-volume relationship previously described for living human eyes. Assumption of the supine posture was accompanied by a significant rise in intraocular pressure; in normal eyes (mean, with SEM) (3.1 (0.4) mmHg, p less than 0.0001) and to a greater extent in ocular hypertensive eyes (4.7 (0.6) mmHg, p less than 0.0001). The POBF did not differ significantly between normotensive and ocular hypertensive groups in either the erect or supine postures. In both groups, however, assumption of the supine posture was accompanied by a significant fall in POBF (normals: -121 (21) microliters/min, p less than 0.0001; ocular hypertensives: -75 (16) microliters/min, p less than 0.0002). These reductions in POBF represent decrements of 27.5 (3.0)% and 17.1 (3.8)% respectively. Pulsatile ocular blood flow is reduced in the supine posture, and this may result in tissue hypoxia in subjects at risk of developing glaucoma. A companion paper describes the measurement of POBF in a group of patients with chronic open angle glaucoma treated with topical timolol 0.25%.
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