The sclera is the white outer shell and principal load-bearing tissue of the eye as it sustains the intraocular pressure. We have hypothesized that the mechanical properties of the posterior sclera play a significant role in and are altered by the development of glaucoma—an ocular disease manifested by structural damage to the optic nerve head. An anisotropic hyperelastic constitutive model is presented to simulate the mechanical behavior of the posterior sclera under acute elevations of intraocular pressure. The constitutive model is derived from fiber-reinforced composite theory, and incorporates stretch-induced stiffening of the reinforcing collagen fibers. Collagen fiber alignment was assumed to be multidirectional at local material points, confined within the plane tangent to the scleral surface, and described by the semicircular von Mises distribution. The introduction of a model parameter, namely, the fiber concentration factor, was used to control collagen fiber alignment along a preferred fiber orientation. To investigate the effects of scleral collagen fiber alignment on the overall behaviors of the posterior sclera and optic nerve head, finite element simulations of an idealized eye were performed. The four output quantities analyzed were the scleral canal expansion, the scleral canal twist, the posterior scleral canal deformation, and the posterior laminar deformation. A circumferential fiber organization in the sclera restrained scleral canal expansion but created posterior laminar deformation, whereas the opposite was observed with a meridional fiber organization. Additionally, the fiber concentration factor acted as an amplifying parameter on the considered outputs. The present model simulation suggests that the posterior sclera has a large impact on the overall behavior of the optic nerve head. It is therefore primordial to provide accurate mechanical properties for this tissue. In a companion paper (Girard, Downs, Bottlang, Burgoyne, and Suh, 2009, “Peripapillary and Posterior Scleral Mechanics—Part II: Experimental and Inverse Finite Element Characterization,” ASME J. Biomech. Eng., 131, p. 051012), we present a method to measure the 3D deformations of monkey posterior sclera and extract mechanical properties based on the proposed constitutive model with an inverse finite element method.
Peripapillary and Posterior Scleral Mechanics—Part I: Development of an Anisotropic Hyperelastic Constitutive Model
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Girard, M. J. A., Downs, J. C., Burgoyne, C. F., and Suh, J. F. (April 15, 2009). "Peripapillary and Posterior Scleral Mechanics—Part I: Development of an Anisotropic Hyperelastic Constitutive Model." ASME. J Biomech Eng. May 2009; 131(5): 051011. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.3113682
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