Changes in aqueous humor dynamics with age and glaucoma

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2005 Sep;24(5):612-37. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2004.10.003.


Changes in aqueous humor dynamics with age and in glaucoma have been studied for several decades. More recently, techniques have been developed which confirm earlier studies showing that outflow facility decreases with age and in glaucoma and add the newer finding that uveoscleral outflow also decreases. Morphologic studies in aging and glaucoma eyes have shown an increase in accumulation of extracellular material in both the trabecular meshwork and ciliary muscle and a loss of trabecular meshwork cells, which contribute to this reduction in outflow and result in an increase in intraocular pressure. A reduction in hyaluronic acid and increases in fibronectin and thrombospondin contribute to the change in the extracellular environment. Imbalances in responses to age-related stresses such as oxidative damage to long-lived molecules, protein cross-linking and loss of elasticity could trigger excess production of factors such as transforming growth factor beta, interleukin-1 and CD44S that could stimulate pathways leading to increases in fibronectin, transformation of trabecular meshwork cells to a myoepithelial state and decrease the breakdown in extracellular matrix material, allowing excess to accumulate. Ultimately trabecular outflow and uveoscleral outflow are reduced and intraocular pressure becomes elevated, adding more stress and perpetuating the pathological condition. Future research to identify additional factors and clarify their roles in these processes could lead to alternative therapies for age and glaucoma related changes in the eye.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Aqueous Humor / metabolism*
  • Glaucoma / metabolism*
  • Humans