Residual deformations strongly influence the local biomechanical environment in a number of connective tissues. The sclera is known to be biomechanically important in healthy and diseased eyes, such as in glaucoma. Here, we study the residual deformations of the sclera, as well as the adjacent choroid and retina. Using freshly harvested porcine eyes, we developed two approaches of quantifying residual deformations in the spherically shaped tissues of interest. The first consisted of punching discs from the posterior wall of the eye and quantifying the changes in the area and eccentricity of these samples. The second consisted of cutting a ring from the equatorial sclera and making stress-relieving cuts in it. Measurements of curvature were made before and after the stress-relieving cuts. Using the first approach, we observed a 42% areal contraction of the choroid, but only modest contractions of the sclera and retina. The observed contractions were asymmetric. In the second approach, we observed an opening of the scleral rings (approx. 10% decrease in curvature). We conclude that residual bending deformations are present in the sclera, which we speculate may be due to radially heterogeneous growth and remodelling of the tissue during normal development. Further, residual areal deformations present in the choroid may be due to the network of elastic fibres in this tissue and residual deformations in the constituent vascular bed. Future studies of ocular biomechanics should attempt to include effects of these residual deformations into mechanical models in order to gain a better understanding of the biomechanics of the ocular wall.
Wang, R., Raykin, J., Gleason, R. L., & Ethier, C. R. (2015). Residual deformations in ocular tissues. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 12(105). https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2014.1101