A simplified physical model of pressure wave dynamics and acoustic wave generation induced by laser absorption in the retina
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Shock waves have been proposed in the literature as a mechanism for retinal damage induced by ultra-short laser pulses. For a spherical absorber, we derive a set of linear equations describing the propagation of pressure waves. We show that the formation of shock fronts is due to the form of the absorber rather than the inclusion of nonlinear terms in the equations. The analytical technique used avoids the need for a Laplace transform approach and is easily applied to other absorber profiles. Our analysis suggests that the ’soft’ nature of the membrane surrounding retinal melanosomes precludes shock waves as a mechanism for the retinal damage induced by ultra-short pulse lasers. The quantitative estimates of the pressure gradients induced by laser absorption which are made possible by this work, together with detailed meso-scale or molecular modelling, will allow alternative damage mechanisms to be identified.
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