Purpose: To understand and quantify intraocular pressure (IOP) measurement errors introduced by corneal variables during applanation tonometry using a cornea biomechanical model.
Setting: Department of Ophthalmology, Biomedical Engineering Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.
Methods: The model assumed an overall resultant pressure that was based on the summation of the applanation pressure, the true IOP, and the surface tension caused by the tear film to determine the final deformation of the corneal apex during IOP measurement. Corneal resistance was varied according to the cornea's biomechanical properties, thickness, and curvature, and the effect of each variable on the accuracy of IOP tonometry readings was examined quantitatively.
Results: The model demonstrated that tonometry readings do not always reflect true IOP values. They deviate when corneal thickness, curvature, or biomechanical properties vary from normal values. Based on the model, predicted IOP readings have a 2.87 mm Hg range resulting from the variation in the corneal thickness in the normal population and a 1.76 mm Hg range from the variation in the corneal radius of curvature. Considering that Young's modulus of the corneal varies from 0.1 to 0.9 MPa in the normal population, the model predicts tonometry IOP readings will have a range of 17.26 mm Hg because of the variation in this corneal biomechanical parameter alone.
Conclusions: The simulation based on the model demonstrated quantitatively that variations in each corneal variable cause errors in tonometry IOP readings. The simulation results indicate that differences in corneal biomechanics across individuals may have greater impact on IOP measurement errors than corneal thickness or curvature.