Elevated intraocular pressure and optic nerve injury models in the rat

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56 Scopus citations


Models of experimentally elevated intraocular pressure in rats provide valuable opportunities to discover and study mechanisms of pressure-induced optic nerve damage. The structure and vasculature of the rat optic nerve head have several anatomic similarities and differences from the primate that allow useful comparisons and insights into human glaucoma. Specifically, the ultrastructural relationship between astrocytes, retinal ganglion cell axons and the connective tissues of the optic nerve head appear quite similar to the primate, and have a high potential for revealing cellular mechanisms of axonal injury. Three widely used models of creating elevated IOP in rats exist. However, they are not all equivalent and appear to differ in the relationship they exhibit between the level of pressure and extent of optic nerve damage. This indicates that these models may differ in the mechanisms by which they produce elevated eye pressure. All of these models are amenable to a variety of methods for evaluating damage. These include objective and subjective histologic assessment of the optic nerve, counting cells in the retinal ganglion cell layer of the retina and the use of retinal whole mounts to count retinal ganglion cells that have been back-labeled with dye applied to the superior colliculus. In the decade since their introduction, these versatile models have provided important insights into mechanisms of pressure-induced optic nerve damage using sensitive molecular biology techniques. They have also allowed the evaluation of several potential strategies for neuroprotection in glaucoma, ranging from currently available drugs to gene transfer studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-317
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Glaucoma
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2005


  • Elevated intraocular pressure
  • Glaucoma
  • Glaucomatous optic neuropathy
  • Rat glaucoma models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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