Estimation of scleral mechanical properties from air-puff optical coherence tomography
David Bronte-Ciriza, Judith S. Birkenfeld, Andrés de la Hoz, Andrea Curatolo, James A. Germann, Lupe Villegas, Alejandra Varea, Eduardo Martínez-Enríquez, and Susana Marcos
We introduce a method to estimate the biomechanical properties of the porcine sclera in intact eye globes ex vivo, using optical coherence tomography that is coupled with an air-puff excitation source, and inverse optimization techniques based on finite element modeling. Air-puff induced tissue deformation was determined at seven different locations on the ocular globe, and the maximum apex deformation, the deformation velocity, and the arc-length during deformation were quantified. In the sclera, the experimental maximum deformation amplitude and the corresponding arc length were dependent on the location of air-puff excitation. The normalized temporal deformation profile of the sclera was distinct from that in the cornea, but similar in all tested scleral locations, suggesting that this profile is independent of variations in scleral thickness. Inverse optimization techniques showed that the estimated scleral elastic modulus ranged from 1.84 ± 0.30 MPa (equatorial inferior) to 6.04 ± 2.11 MPa (equatorial temporal). The use of scleral air-puff imaging holds promise for non-invasively investigating the structural changes in the sclera associated with myopia and glaucoma, and for monitoring potential modulation of scleral stiffness in disease or treatment.
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