PURPOSE: β-Adrenergic blocking drugs lower intraocular pressure. The question of whether these drugs also alter, either directly or indirectly, orbital hemodynamics is potentially of great importance for patients with normal-tension glaucoma who may have some degree of reversible vasospasm. METHODS: We compared the effect of selective (betaxolol) and nonselective (timolol) β-adrenergic blocking drugs on flow velocities (as determined by color Doppler imaging) in orbital vessels in 13 patients with normal-tension glaucoma (mean age, 62 ± 3 years; mean intraocular pressure, 15 ± 2 mm Hg). A one-month drug treatment double-masked crossover design, with a three-week washout before each drug, was used. RESULTS: Neither drug changed peak systolic velocity in any of the four vessels studied (ophthalmic, nasal and temporal posterior ciliary, and central retinal arteries). Additionally, timolol did not alter end-diastolic velocity or resistance index (defined as [peak systolic velocity minus end-diastolic velocity] divided by peak systolic velocity) in any of the vessels measured. In contrast, betaxolol tended to increase end-diastolic velocity and to decrease resistance index: the four-vessel average end-diastolic velocity increased 30% (P = .08), and the four-vessel average resistance index decreased significantly (P = .04). These reductions in resistance index occurred despite that betaxolol, in contrast to timolol, did not significantly decrease intraocular pressure. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that, in patients with normal-tension glaucoma, selective β-adrenergic blockade (betaxolol) may have ocular vasorelaxant effects independent of any influence on intraocular pressure, whereas nonselective blockade (timolol) lowers intraocular pressure without apparently altering orbital hemodynamics.
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