© 2016 Stockslager et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Pathologic changes in intracranial pressure (ICP) are commonly observed in a variety of medical conditions, including traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain tumors, and glaucoma. However, current ICP measurement techniques are invasive, requiring a lumbar puncture or surgical insertion of a cannula into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-filled ventricles of the brain. A potential alternative approach to ICP measurement leverages the unique anatomy of the central retinal vein, which is exposed to both intraocular pressure (IOP) and ICP as it travels inside the eye and through the optic nerve; manipulating IOP while observing changes in the natural pulsations of the central retinal vein could potentially provide an accurate, indirect measure of ICP. As a step toward implementing this technique, we describe the design, fabrication, and characterization of a system that is capable of manipulating IOP in vivo with <0.1 mmHg resolution and settling times less than 2 seconds. In vitro tests were carried out to characterize system performance. Then, as a proof of concept, we used the system to manipulate IOP in tree shrews (Tupaia belangeri) while video of the retinal vessels was recorded and the caliber of a selected vein was quantified. Modulating IOP using our system elicited a rapid change in the appearance of the retinal vein of interest: IOP was lowered from 10 to 3 mmHg, and retinal vein caliber sharply increased as IOP decreased from 7 to 5 mmHg. Another important feature of this technology is its capability to measure ocular compliance and outflow facility in vivo, as demonstrated in tree shrews. Collectively, these proof-of-concept demonstrations support the utility of this system to manipulate IOP for a variety of useful applications in ocular biomechanics, and provide a framework for further study of the mechanisms of retinal venous pulsation.
Stockslager, M. A., Samuels, B. C., Allingham, R. R., Klesmith, Z. A., Schwaner, S. A., Forest, C. R., & Ethier, C. R. (2016). System for rapid, precise modulation of intraocular pressure, toward minimally-invasive in vivo measurement of intracranial pressure. PLoS ONE, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0147020