The Controversy of Chronotherapy: Emerging Evidence regarding Bedtime Dosing of Antihypertensive Medications in Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. Semin Ophthalmol 2023;38(1):99-104.Abstract.
"Blindness upon awakening" occurs in a significant proportion of patients with non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION). This observation has led to a notion that nocturnal hypotension is a significant contributor and, perhaps, the final insult in a multifactorial process leading to the development of NAION, as has been proposed in other ischemic events like strokes, myocardial infarction, and ischemic rest pain. An extension of this concept has led to the recommendation that patients who have experienced NAION avoid taking blood pressure medications at bedtime. However, mounting evidence in the cardiology literature suggests that nocturnal hypertension is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity. In two prospective blood pressure monitoring studies in 1994 and 1999, Hayreh observed an extreme dipping pattern in nocturnal systolic blood pressure in NAION patients compared to reported normal values. Yet, two subsequent ambulatory blood pressure studies found either normal or non-dipping patterns in NAION patients. The majority of clinical trials published since 1976 that have studied nocturnal administration of antihypertensives have reported enhanced blood pressure control and reduced cardiovascular risk. Most notably, the large, prospective 2020 Hygia Chronotherapy Trial reported a statistically-significant beneficial effect of nocturnal antihypertensive dosing on cardiovascular outcomes and mortality. The controversy regarding nocturnal hypotension and NAION is of increasing relevance as there is new evidence to suggest a beneficial effect of nocturnal antihypertensive dosing in cardiovascular risk. This new information should prompt a re-evaluation of the relevant risk-to-benefit of reducing the risk of NAION on one hand, and the potential increase of cardiovascular risk on the other. Definitive resolution of this question would require a prospective, randomized control study with input from both cardiology and ophthalmology.