Biomechanics of the Posterior Eye: A Critical Role in Health and Disease

  • Campbell I
  • Coudrillier B
  • Ross Ethier C
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The posterior eye is a complex biomechanical structure. Delicate neural and vascular tissues of the retina, choroid, and optic nerve head that are critical for visual function are subjected to mechanical loading from intraocular pressure, intraocular and extraorbital muscles, and external forces on the eye. The surrounding sclera serves to counteract excessive deformation from these forces and thus to create a stable biomechanical environment for the ocular tissues. Additionally, the eye is a dynamic structure with connective tissue remodeling occurring as a result of aging and pathologies such as glaucoma and myopia. The material properties of these tissues and the distribution of stresses and strains in the posterior eye is an area of active research, relying on a combination of computational modeling, imaging, and biomechanical measurement approaches. Investigators are recognizing the increasing importance of the role of the collagen microstructure in these material properties and are undertaking microstructural measurements to drive microstructurally-informed models of ocular biomechanics. Here, we review notable findings and the consensus understanding on the biomechanics and microstructure of the posterior eye. Results from computational and numerical modeling studies and mechanical testing of ocular tissue are discussed. We conclude with some speculation as to future trends in this field.

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  • Ian C. Campbell

  • Baptiste Coudrillier

  • C. Ross Ethier

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