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Finite element modeling of drug distribution in the vitreous humor of the rabbit eye


Direct intravitreal injection of drug is a common method for treating diseases of the retina or vitreous. The stagnant nature of the vitreous humor and surrounding tissue barriers creates concentration gradients within the vitreous that must be accounted for when developing drug therapy. The objective of this research was to study drug distribution in the vitreous humor of the rabbit eye after an intravitreal injection, using a finite element model. Fluorescein and fluorescein glucuronide were selected as model compounds due to available experimental data. All required model parameters were known except for the permeability of these compounds through the retina, which was determined by fitting model predictions to experimental data. The location of the intravitreal injection in the experimental studies was not precisely known; therefore, several injection locations were considered, and best-fit retinal permeability was determined for each case. Retinal permeability of fluorescein and fluorescein glucuronide estimated by the model ranged from 1.94×10−5 to 3.5×10−5 cm s−1 and from 0 to 7.62×10−7 cm s−1, respectively, depending on the assumed site of the injection. These permeability values were compared with values previously calculated from other models, and the limitations of the models are discussed. Intravitreal injection position was found to be an important variable that must be controlled in both experimental and clinical settings.

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concentration of drug (g ml−1)


diffusivity (cm2 s−1)


pressure (g cm−1 s−2 or μPa)


time (sec)

\(\vec U\) :

velocity vector (cm s−1)


viscosity (g s−1 cm−1)


density (g cm−3)


grad (vector operator)


dot product (vector operator)


normal direction


tangential directions


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Friedrich, S., Cheng, YL. & Saville, B. Finite element modeling of drug distribution in the vitreous humor of the rabbit eye. Ann Biomed Eng 25, 303–314 (1997).

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  • Fluorescein
  • Fluorescein glucuronide
  • Intravitreal injection
  • Retinal permeability
  • Injection location