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Andrew J. Feola, Emily S. Nelson, Jerry Myers, C. Ross Ethier, Brian C. Samuels; The Impact of Choroidal Swelling on Optic Nerve Head Deformation. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(10):4172-4181. doi: 10.1167/iovs.18-24463.
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Choroid geometry and swelling have been proposed to contribute to ocular pathologies. Thus, it is important to understand how the choroid may impact the optic nerve head (ONH) biomechanical environment. We developed a finite element model to study how acute choroidal swelling and choroid geometry affect ONH deformation.
We developed two geometric models of the ONH: one with a “blunt” choroidal insertion and another with a “tapered” choroid insertion. We examined how choroidal volume changes (2.1–14.2 μL, estimated to occur during the ocular pulse) impact biomechanical strain in three tissue regions: the prelaminar neural tissue, lamina cribrosa, and retrolaminar neural tissue. Then, we performed a sensitivity analysis to understand how variation in ONH pressures, tissue material properties, and choroidal swelling influenced the peak tissue strains.
Choroidal swelling in the blunt choroid geometry had a large impact on the strains in the prelaminar neural tissue, with magnitudes comparable to those expected to occur due to an IOP of 30 mm Hg. Choroidal swelling in the tapered choroid geometry also affected strains but to a lesser extent compared to the blunt geometry. A sensitivity analysis confirmed that choroidal swelling was more influential on prelaminar neural tissue strains in the blunt choroid geometry.
Choroid anatomy and swelling can interact to play an important role in prelaminar neural tissue deformation. These findings suggest that the choroid may play an important, and previously unappreciated, role in ONH biomechanics, and motivate additional research to better define the in vivo effects of choroidal volume change.
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