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Mechanical properties of the human eye
The eyeball is the major organ of vision and it needs to withstand the effects of many forces that are
caused by normal activities in order to maintain its integrity and its intraocular pressure. Proper
regulation of intraocular pressure is needed in order to prevent glaucoma which can lead to a loss of
vision. This protection is afforded by elasticity of the eyeball coats which is made up of the cornea
and sclera. With the advent of refractive surgery the corneal mechanics alters and with age the eye
undergoes physiological changes that also lead the mechanics of the eye and the intraocular
pressure to change. To date there have been inconclusive data on how the mechanical properties
change post-surgery and with age.
This project aims to investigate the material and mechanical properties of the cornea and sclera
using novel methods of measurement using novel rheological measurements that apply the
principles of atomic force microscopy as well as using the pressure vessel model [1]. Finite element
(FE) modelling [2,3] will be used to develop novel human 3-dimensional FE models for different ages
with improved boundary conditions and incorporating internal structures and post-surgical changes.
Models will be validated with experimental data. An understanding of ocular mechanics will help in
the design of better measurements for intraocular pressure and ultimately lead to an improved
diagnosis of glaucoma.
This project will suit an Engineering, Mathematics, Physics or Computer Science graduate who is
interested in computational modelling its applications to biology and medicine. Some experience in
Finite Element Modelling is desirable but not essential.
1. Asejczyk-Widlicka, M. and Pierscionek, B.K. (2008) The elasticity and rigidity of the outer
coats of the eye. British Journal of Ophthalmology, 92(10), pp. 1415-1418
2. Asejczyk-Widlicka, M., Śródka, W.D., Schachar, R.A. and Pierścionek, B.K. (2011) Material
properties of the cornea and sclera: a modelling approach to test experimental analysis
Journal of Biomechanics 44 pp 543-546
3. Srodka, W. and Pierscionek, B.K. (2008) The effect of material properties of the eyeball coat
on optical image stability. Journal of Biomedical Optics 13, 054013
DoS Professor Barbara Pierscionek, Professor Jian Wang, Dr Demetrios Venetsanos