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An interferometric ex vivo study of corneal biomechanics under physiologically representative loading, highlighting the role of the limbus in pressure compensation

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posted on 28.09.2020, 15:28 by Abby Wilson, John Jones, John TyrerJohn Tyrer, John Marshall
Background: The mechanical properties of the cornea are complex and regionally variable. This paper uses an original method to investigate the biomechanics of the cornea in response to hydrostatic loading over the typical physiological range of intra-ocular pressure (IOP) fluctuations thereby increasing understanding of clinically relevant corneal biomechanical properties and their contributions to the refractive properties of the cornea. Methods: Displacement speckle pattern interferometry (DSPI) was used to measure the total surface displacement of 40 porcine and 6 human corneal-scleral specimens in response to pressure variations up to 1 mmHg from a baseline of 16.5 mmHg. All specimens were mounted in a modified artificial anterior chamber (AAC) and loaded hydrostatically. Areas of high strain in response to loading were identified by comparing the displacements across different regions. Results: The nature of the response of the corneal surface to loading demonstrated high regional topographic variation. Mechanical properties were shown to be asymmetrical, and deformation of the limbal and pre-limbal regions dominated these responses respectively with over 90% (N-T) and 60% (S-I) of the total maximum displacement occurring in these regions indicating high-strain. In contrast, the curvature of the central cornea remained relatively unchanged merely translating in position. Conclusions: The limbal and pre-limbal regions of the cornea appear to be fundamental to the absorption of small pressure fluctuations facilitating the curvature of the central cornea to remain relatively unchanged. The differential mechanical properties of this region could have important implications for the application of corneal surgery and corneal crosslinking, warranting further investigation.


During the course of this study, Dr. Abby Wilson was enrolled on a PhD, and was funded by EPSRC and Fight for Sight.



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

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Eye and Vision






BioMed Central Ltd part of Springer Nature


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Dr Abby Wilson. Deposit date: 28 September 2020

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