Estimation of the mechanical properties of the eye through the study of its vibrational modes

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Abstract

Measuring the eye’s mechanical properties in vivo and with minimally invasive techniques can be the key for individualized solutions to a number of eye pathologies. The development of such techniques largely relies on a computational modelling of the eyeball and, it optimally requires the synergic interplay between experimentation and numerical simulation. In Astrophysics and Geophysics the remote measurement of structural properties of the systems of their realm is performed on the basis of (helio-)seismic techniques. As a biomechanical system, the eyeball possesses normal vibrational modes encompassing rich information about its structure and mechanical properties. However, the integral analysis of the eyeball vibrational modes has not been performed yet. Here we develop a new finite difference method to compute both the spheroidal and, specially, the toroidal eigenfrequencies of the human eye. Using this numerical model, we show that the vibrational eigenfrequencies of the human eye fall in the interval 100 Hz–10 MHz. We find that compressible vibrational modes may release a trace on high frequency changes of the intraocular pressure, while incompressible normal modes could be registered analyzing the scattering pattern that the motions of the vitreous humour leave on the retina. Existing contact lenses with embebed devices operating at high sampling frequency could be used to register the microfluctuations of the eyeball shape we obtain. We advance that an inverse problem to obtain the mechanical properties of a given eye (e.g., Young’s modulus, Poisson ratio) measuring its normal frequencies is doable. These measurements can be done using non-invasive techniques, opening very interesting perspectives to estimate the mechanical properties of eyes in vivo. Future research might relate various ocular pathologies with anomalies in measured vibrational frequencies of the eye.

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Aloy, M., Adsuara, J. E., Cerdá-Durán, P., Obergaulinger, M., Esteve-Taboada, J. J., Ferrer-Blasco, T., & Montés-Micó, R. (2017). Estimation of the mechanical properties of the eye through the study of its vibrational modes. PLoS ONE, 12(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0183892

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