Peripapillary and posterior scleral mechanics - Part II: Experimental and inverse finite element characterization

Academic Article


  • The posterior sclera likely plays an important role in the development of glaucoma, and accurate characterization of its mechanical properties is needed to understand its impact on the more delicate optic nerve head - the primary site of damage in the disease. The posterior scleral shells from both eyes of one rhesus monkey were individually mounted on a custom-built pressurization apparatus. Intraocular pressure was incrementally increased from 5 mm Hg to 45 mm Hg, and the 3D displacements were measured using electronic speckle pattern interferometry. Finite element meshes of each posterior scleral shell were reconstructed from data generated by a 3D digitizer arm (shape) and a 20 MHz ultrasound transducer (thickness). An anisotropic hyperelastic constitutive model described in a companion paper (Girard, Downs, Burgoyne, and Suh, 2009, "Peripapillary and Posterior Scleral Mechanics - Part I: Development of an Anisotropic Hyperelastic Constitutive Model," ASME J. Biomech. Eng., 131, p. 051011), which includes stretch-induced stiffening and multidirectional alignment of the collagen fibers, was applied to each reconstructed mesh. Surface node displacements of each model were fitted to the experimental displacements using an inverse finite element method, which estimated a unique set of 13 model parameters. The predictions of the proposed constitutive model matched the 3D experimental displacements well. In both eyes, the tangent modulus increased dramatically with IOP, which indicates that the sclera is mechanically nonlinear. The sclera adjacent to the optic nerve head, known as the peripapillary sclera, was thickest and exhibited the lowest tangent modulus, which might have contributed to the uniform distribution of the structural stiffness for each entire scleral shell. Posterior scleral deformation following acute IOP elevations appears to be nonlinear and governed by the underlying scleral collagen microstructure as predicted by finite element modeling. The method is currently being used to characterize posterior scleral mechanics in normal (young and old), early, and moderately glaucomatous monkey eyes. Copyright © 2009 by ASME.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Girard MJA; Downs JC; Bottlang M; Burgoyne CF; Suh JKF
  • Volume

  • 131
  • Issue

  • 5