In Vivo 3-Dimensional Strain Mapping Confirms Large Optic Nerve Head Deformations Following Horizontal Eye Movements

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2016 Oct 1;57(13):5825-5833. doi: 10.1167/iovs.16-20560.


Purpose: To measure lamina cribrosa (LC) strains (deformations) following abduction and adduction in healthy subjects and to compare them with those resulting from a relatively high acute intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation.

Methods: A total of 16 eyes from 8 healthy subjects were included. Among the 16 eyes, 11 had peripapillary atrophy (PPA). For each subject, both optic nerve heads (ONHs) were imaged using optical coherence tomography (OCT) at baseline (twice), in different gaze positions (adduction and abduction of 20°) and following an acute IOP elevation of approximately 20 mm Hg from baseline (via ophthalmodynamometry). Strains of LC for all loading scenarios were mapped using a three-dimensional tracking algorithm.

Results: In all 16 eyes, LC strains induced by adduction and abduction were 5.83% ± 3.78% and 3.93% ± 2.57%, respectively, and both significantly higher than the control strains measured from the repeated baseline acquisitions (P < 0.01). Strains of LC in adduction were on average higher than those in abduction, but the difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.07). Strains of LC induced by IOP elevations (on average 21.13 ± 7.61 mm Hg) were 6.41% ± 3.21% and significantly higher than the control strains (P < 0.0005). Gaze-induced LC strains in the PPA group were on average larger than those in the non-PPA group; however, the relationship was not statistically significant.

Conclusions: Our results confirm that horizontal eye movements generate significant ONH strains, which is consistent with our previous estimations using finite element analysis. Further studies are needed to explore a possible link between ONH strains induced by eye movements and axonal loss in optic neuropathies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Female
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Male
  • Optic Disk / pathology*
  • Optic Disk / physiopathology
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / physiopathology
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / methods*
  • Young Adult