The inflation response of the human lamina cribrosa and sclera: Analysis of deformation and interaction

Acta Biomater. 2020 Apr 1;106:225-241. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2020.01.049. Epub 2020 Feb 8.


This study investigated the inflation response of the lamina cribrosa (LC) and adjacent peripapillary sclera (PPS) in post-mortem human eyes with no history of glaucoma. The posterior sclera of 13 human eyes from 7 donors was subjected to controlled pressurization between 5-45 mmHg. A laser-scanning microscope (LSM) was used to image the second harmonic generation (SHG) response of collagen and the two-photon fluorescent (TPF) response of elastin within the volume of the LC and PPS at each pressure. Image volumes were analyzed using digital volume correlation (DVC) to calculate the three-dimensional (3D) deformation field between pressures. The LC exhibited larger radial strain, Err, and maximum principal strain, Emax, (p < 0.0001) and greater posterior displacement (p=0.0007) compared to the PPS between 5-45 mmHg, but had similar average circumferential strain, Eθθ, and maximum shear strain, Γmax. The Emax and Γmax were highest near the LC-PPS interface and lowest in the nasal quadrant of both tissues. Larger LC area was associated with smaller Emax in the peripheral LC and larger Emax in the central LC (p ≤ 0.01). The Emax, Γmax, and Eθθ in the inner PPS increased with increasing strain in adjacent LC regions (p ≤ 0.001). Smaller strains in the PPS were associated with a larger difference in the posterior displacement between the PPS and central LC (p < 0.0001 for Emax and Err), indicating that a stiffer pressure-strain response of the PPS is associated with greater posterior bowing of the LC. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Glaucoma causes vision loss through progressive damage of the retinal ganglion axons at the lamina cribrosa (LC), a connective tissue structure that supports the axons as they pass through the eye wall. It is hypothesized that strains caused by intraocular pressure may initiate this damage and that these strains are modulated by the combined deformation of the LC and adjacent peripapillary sclera (PPS). In this study we present a method to measure the pressure-induced 3D displacement and strain field in the LC and PPS simultaneously. Regional strain variation in the LC and PPS was investigated and compared and strains were analyzed for associations with age, LC area, LC strain magnitude, and LC posterior motion relative to the PPS.

Keywords: Biomechanics; Digital volume correlation; Inflation test; Lamina cribrosa; Peripapillary sclera.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Elastin / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure / physiology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Middle Aged
  • Sclera / metabolism*
  • Stress, Mechanical


  • Collagen
  • Elastin