Circadian Rhythm and Glaucoma: What do We Know?

Lauren Ciulla, Meena Moorthy, Sunu Mathew, Brent Siesky, Alice C. Verticchio Vercellin, David Price, Ingrida Januleviciene, Alon Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose:The current understanding of circadian regulation disorders and their involvement in glaucoma pathophysiology are poorly understood, yet they may have a substantial impact on the onset and progression of glaucoma. Herein, we review and summarize all the available literature on circadian rhythm disorder and glaucoma to uncover the impact on glaucoma risk, and we highlight future research and potential novel targets for glaucoma management.Materials and Methods:A review of the relevant literature was performed through PubMed through August 1, 2019.Results:Within a normal circadian rhythm, intraocular pressure (IOP) peaks at night, whereas blood pressure (BP) troughs at night. High nocturnal IOP coupled with low nocturnal systemic BP results in low ocular perfusion pressure and potential for unobserved damage to retinal tissues and the optic nerve. Circadian-related melatonin and sleep disorders also result in changes in IOP and ocular perfusion pressure that lead to the progression of glaucoma. In addition, impaired perception of light input due to glaucoma can subsequently lead to abnormal serum levels of melatonin, resulting in circadian rhythm misalignment. This disruption of the circadian rhythm also contributes to sleep and mood disorders, common in individuals with glaucoma. As regards treatment, glaucoma medications that lower nocturnal IOP without influencing nocturnal BP or diminishing circadian variation seem most effective.Conclusions:Glaucoma progression is influenced by multiple physiological factors regulated by the circadian rhythm. Progression of the disease may also cause physiological changes that lead to circadian-related issues. Further research is warranted on the diurnal cycle, melatonin-mediated processes, and their influence on glaucoma management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-132
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Glaucoma
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • circadian rhythm
  • glaucoma
  • sleep disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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