Objective To compare the PO2 distribution in different regions in the eyes of patients undergoing intraocular surgery.
Methods Before initiation of intraocular cataract and/or glaucoma surgery, an optical oxygen sensor was introduced into the anterior chamber via a peripheral corneal paracentesis. The tip of the flexible fiberoptic probe was positioned by the surgeon for 3 measurements in all patients: (1) near the central corneal endothelium, (2) in the mid–anterior chamber, and (3) in the anterior chamber angle. In patients scheduled to undergo cataract extraction, PO2 was also measured (4) at the anterior lens surface and (5) in the posterior chamber just behind the iris. Oxygen measurements at the 5 locations were compared using a 2-tailed unpaired t test and multivariate regression.
Results The PO2 value was significantly higher in African American patients at all 5 locations compared with Caucasian patients. Adjusting for age increased the significance of this association. Adjusting for race revealed that age was associated with increased PO2 beneath the central cornea.
Conclusions Racial differences in oxygen levels in the human eye reflect an important difference in oxidative metabolism in the cornea and lens and may reflect differences in systemic physiologic function. Increased oxygen or oxygen metabolites may increase oxidative stress, cell damage, intraocular pressure, and the risk of developing glaucoma. Oxygen use by the cornea decreases with age.