Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 941–963

Scleral anisotropy and its effects on the mechanical response of the optic nerve head


    • Department of Mechanical EngineeringJohns Hopkins University
  • Craig Boote
    • Structural Biophysics Group, School of Optometry and Vision SciencesCardiff University
  • Harry A. Quigley
    • Glaucoma Center of Excellence, Wilmer Ophthalmological InstituteJohns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Thao D. Nguyen
    • Department of Mechanical EngineeringJohns Hopkins University
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10237-012-0455-y

Cite this article as:
Coudrillier, B., Boote, C., Quigley, H.A. et al. Biomech Model Mechanobiol (2013) 12: 941. doi:10.1007/s10237-012-0455-y


This paper presents a computational modeling study of the effects of the collagen fiber structure on the mechanical response of the sclera and the adjacent optic nerve head (ONH). A specimen-specific inverse finite element method was developed to determine the material properties of two human sclera subjected to full-field inflation experiments. A distributed fiber model was applied to describe the anisotropic elastic behavior of the sclera. The model directly incorporated wide-angle X-ray scattering measurements of the anisotropic collagen structure. The converged solution of the inverse method was used in micromechanical studies of the mechanical anisotropy of the sclera at different scales. The effects of the scleral collagen fiber structure on the ONH deformation were evaluated by progressively filtering out local anisotropic features. It was found that the majority of the midposterior sclera could be described as isotropic without significantly affecting the mechanical response of the tissues of the ONH. In contrast, removing local anisotropic features in the peripapillary sclera produced significant changes in scleral canal expansion and lamina cribrosa deformation. Local variations in the collagen structure of the peripapillary sclera significantly influenced the mechanical response of the ONH.


ScleraOptic nerve head Inverse finite element methodWide-angle X-ray scatteringInflation experiment

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012