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Andrew J. Feola, Christopher A. Girkin, C. Ross Ethier, Brian C. Samuels; A Potential Role of Acute Choroidal Expansion in Nonarteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2022;63(4):23. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.63.4.23.
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Nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) has been associated with a thickened choroid at the optic nerve head (ONH). Here, we use computational modeling to better understand how choroidal expansion and choroidal geometry influence tissue deformation within the ONH relative to intraocular pressure (IOP) and intracranial pressure (ICP) effects.
Using a model of the posterior eye that included the sclera, peripapillary sclera, annular ring, pia mater, dura mater, neural tissues, Bruch's membrane, choroid, and lamina cribrosa, we examined how varying material properties of ocular tissues influenced ONH deformations under physiological and supra-physiological, or “pathological,” conditions. We considered choroidal expansion (c. 35 µL of expansion), elevated IOP (30 mm Hg), and elevated ICP (20 mm Hg), and calculated peak strains in the ONH relative to a baseline condition representing an individual in the upright position.
Supra-physiological choroidal expansion had the largest impact on strains in the prelaminar neural tissue. In addition, compared to a tapered choroid, a “blunt” choroid insertion at the ONH resulted in higher strains. Elevated IOP and ICP caused the highest strains within the lamina cribrosa and retrolaminar neural tissue, respectively.
Acute choroidal expansion caused large deformations of the ONH and these deformations were impacted by choroid geometry. These results are consistent with the concept that compartment syndrome due to the choroid geometry and/or expansion at the ONH contributes to NAION. Prolonged deformations due to supra-physiological loading may induce a mechanobiological response or ischemia, highlighting the potential impact of choroidal expansion on biomechanical strains in the ONH.
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