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Br J Ophthalmol. 1994 Aug;78(8):643-8.

Deformation of the lamina cribrosa by elevated intraocular pressure.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The purpose of this study was to determine the mechanical response of the lamina cribrosa (LC) to elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) so as to identify possible mechanisms of optic nerve damage in early glaucoma. Ten pairs of normal human eyes were fixed after 24 hours' exposure to 50 mm Hg pressure (experimental eyes) or 5 mm Hg pressure (contralateral control eyes). Photomicrographs of the central region of the optic nerve head (ONH) were taken to examine the LC morphologically and to measure the dimensions of the LC. It was found that elevated IOP caused the LC to deflect posteriorly without affecting its thickness. The majority of the posterior displacement in the LC occurred near the periphery of the ONH. This shape change is consistent with a model of force distribution within the LC in which shear stresses are dominant; such stresses are maximal at the periphery and minimal at the centre of the ONH. These findings support a model in which mechanical forces, specifically shearing stresses within the peripheral lamina, play a direct role in the pathology of glaucomatous optic neuropathy.

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