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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2009 Nov;50(11):5226-37. doi: 10.1167/iovs.08-3363. Epub 2009 Jun 3.

Scleral biomechanics in the aging monkey eye.

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  • 1Ocular Biomechanics Laboratory, Devers Eye Institute, Portland, Oregon 97232, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To investigate the age-related differences in the inhomogeneous, anisotropic, nonlinear biomechanical properties of posterior sclera from old (22.9 +/- 5.3 years) and young (1.5 +/- 0.7 years) rhesus monkeys.

METHODS:

The posterior scleral shell of each eye was mounted on a custom-built pressurization apparatus, then intraocular pressure (IOP) was elevated from 5 to 45 mm Hg while the 3D displacements of the scleral surface were measured with speckle interferometry. Each scleral shell's geometry was digitally reconstructed from data generated by a 3-D digitizer (topography) and 20-MHz ultrasound (thickness). An inverse finite element (FE) method incorporating a fiber-reinforced constitutive model was used to extract a unique set of biomechanical properties for each eye. Displacements, thickness, stress, strain, tangent modulus, structural stiffness, and preferred collagen fiber orientation were mapped for each posterior sclera.

RESULTS:

The model yielded 3-D deformations of posterior sclera that matched well with those observed experimentally. The posterior sclera exhibited inhomogeneous, anisotropic, nonlinear mechanical behavior. The sclera was significantly thinner (P = 0.038) and tangent modulus and structural stiffness were significantly higher in old monkeys (P < 0.0001). On average, scleral collagen fibers were circumferentially oriented around the optic nerve head (ONH). No difference was found in the preferred collagen fiber orientation and fiber concentration factor between age groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

Posterior sclera of old monkeys is significantly stiffer than that of young monkeys and is therefore subject to higher stresses but lower strains at all levels of IOP. Age-related stiffening of the sclera may significantly influence ONH biomechanics and potentially contribute to age-related susceptibility to glaucomatous vision loss.

PMID:
19494203
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2883469
Free PMC Article
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