The fundamental physical properties of the outer tunic of the eye determine the structural characteristics of the ocular globe and may be altered in several disease states including axial elongation in myopia, pathological deformation in keratoconus, and iatrogenic keratoectasia following corneal refractive surgery. These biomechanical tissue characteristics not only influence our clinical interpretation of diagnostic tests, e.g. measurement of intraocular pressure, but have been implicated as important factors in the development of glaucoma and other diseases. Currently, there is no reliable method to perform measurements of corneal structural properties in vivo. Here we will develop a novel method for the topographical assessment of corneal elastic properties that could potentially be used for routine clinical diagnosis and monitoring of treatment. This method will take advantage of localized pulsed-air stimulation to generate microscopic pressure waves within the cornea and use phase-sensitive swept-source optical coherence tomography to detect and analyze the resultant pressure wave propagation within the cornea to reconstruct volumetric biomechanical properties of this tissue. Our long-term objectives are to use the coordinated talents of this research team to produce novel elasticity imaging instrumentation/methods that can extend our current understanding of the basic principles of tissue biomechanics and apply this knowledge to clinically relevant problems in ocular disease.
This proposal will develop novel technology and methods for noninvasive reconstruction of biomechanical properties of the cornea. Development of such a technique would significantly advance our understanding of the corneal disorders, allow developing novel clinical therapies and interventions, and improve outcome of current surgical interventions including corneal refractive surgery.
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