May 30, 2017
1 min read

UAB researcher to study circadian fluctuation, glaucoma

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Brian Samuels, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the University of Alabama Birmingham Department of Ophthalmology, has received a $1.5 million 5-year grant from the National Eye Institute to explore the links between circadian fluctuations and glaucoma.

As the U.S. population ages, the number of glaucoma cases will also increase, and it is projected that more than 5.5 million Americans will suffer from glaucoma by 2050, according to the press release from the institute.

The scientific community is aware of an increase in eye pressure throughout the morning, which typically goes down throughout the day, known as circadian fluctuation, according to Samuels. He is interested in finding out why this is happening.

Samuels conducted a series of studies stimulating the dorsomedial hypothalamus and then observed eye pressure after heart rate and blood pressure increased, he said in the release. They found an increase in intracranial and IOP as blood pressure and heart rate increased.

In addition to the pressure balance, there are specific types of neurons in the dorsomedial hypothalamus called orexin neurons, according to the release, and these neurons are responsible for driving circadian rhythm.

Samuels is also studying the orexin neurons to see if they may be regulating the changes in intracranial pressure and IOP.

This R01 National Institutes of Health grant is in addition to a grant Samuels recently received from NASA, along with his fellow collaborators from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, to study computational modeling as a method of determining why astronauts who are in space for extended periods of time are experiencing eye pathologies.