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From the Archives of the Archives
February 1, 2008

Ocular Pressure

Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126(2):205. doi:10.1001/archopht.126.2.205

The Marquis d’Ourches, in 1872, left a large sum for the discovery of a certain sign of death, and many prize essays arrived at the medical school. Devergie reported on these papers and discussed also the ocular pressure after death. He did not trust this ocular sign and noted many diseases in which a fall in ocular pressure was observable in life. . . . 

The ocular pressure falls at the moment of death, but some pressure remains. The residual pressure then disappears slowly. There may be a difference in tension between the two eyes. This postmortem change in the ocular pressure is not a safe and sure diagnostic sign of death. In numerous ophthalmic and general diseases the pressure is sometimes as low as it is in death. After enucleation the tension generally becomes zero. The glaucomatous eye retains its pressure after death and after enucleation. The primary decrease is due to the change in the vitreous. Tension in the eye with primary and that in the eye with secondary glaucoma act in the same way.