Age-related changes in human peripapillary scleral strain

Academic Article


  • To test the hypothesis that mechanical strain in the posterior human sclera is altered with age, 20 pairs of normal eyes from human donors aged 20 to 90 years old were inflation tested within 48-h postmortem. The intact posterior scleral shells were pressurized from 5 to 45 mmHg, while the full-field three-dimensional displacements of the scleral surface were measured using laser speckle interferometry. The full strain tensor of the outer scleral surface was calculated directly from the displacement field. Mean maximum principal (tensile) strain was computed for eight circumferential sectors (45° wide) within the peripapillary and mid-peripheral regions surrounding the optic nerve head (ONH). To estimate the age-related changes in scleral strain, results were fit using a functional mixed effects model that accounts for intradonor variability and spatial autocorrelation. Mechanical tensile strain in the peripapillary sclera is significantly higher than the strain in the sclera farther away from the ONH. Overall, strains in the peripapillary sclera decrease significantly with age. Sectorially, peripapillary scleral tensile strains in the nasal sectors are significantly higher than the temporal sectors at younger ages, but the sectorial strain pattern reverses with age, and the temporal sectors exhibited the highest tensile strains in the elderly. Overall, peripapillary scleral structural stiffness increases significantly with age. The sectorial pattern of peripapillary scleral strain reverses with age, which may predispose adjacent regions of the lamina cribrosa to biomechanical insult. The pattern and age-related changes in sectorial peripapillary scleral strain closely match those seen in disk hemorrhages and neuroretinal rim area measurement change rates reported in previous studies of normal human subjects. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Fazio MA; Grytz R; Morris JS; Bruno L; Gardiner SK; Girkin CA; Downs JC
  • Start Page

  • 551
  • End Page

  • 563
  • Volume

  • 13
  • Issue

  • 3