Microstructural differences in the human posterior sclera as a function of age and race

Dongmei Yan, Sheridan McPheeters, Gregory Johnson, Urs Utzinger, Jonathan P. van de Geest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Purpose. The purpose of this study was to quantify the age and race-related differences in the microstructural organization of the human posterior sclera. Such differences may contribute to the predisposition of primary open-angle glaucoma in various high-risk populations. Methods. Posterior-temporal scleras from 75 right eyes were procured at an average distance of 35 mm from the center of the optic nerve head (ONH). A light-scattering device was used to investigate the matrix organization of posterior scleral fibers around the ONH. In addition to the degree of alignment (via eccentricity), the percentage occurrence of fiber angles within equatorial and meridionally aligned bins was quantified as a function of depth, sex, age, and race. There were 20 African Americans, 55 Caucasians, 49 males, 26 females, in this study, all falling within three age groups (<30, n = 8; 30 - 60, n = 33; and >60 years, n = 34). Three scleral layers, normalized for depth, were examined. Results. For all ages and both races, fibers were preferentially oriented equatorially at all layers (P < 0.001). The African Americans had a significantly higher percentage of occurrence of meridional fibers than did the Caucasians (P < 0.001). The percentage occurrence of meridional fibers decreased significantly from the inner to the outer layers of the posterior sclera (P < 0.001). Conclusions. Statistically significant microstructural differences were found in the posterior sclera between African American and Caucasian donors. Ongoing work is focused on identifying whether such microstructural differences play a role in the higher prevalence of glaucoma in African American populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-829
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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