Racioethnic differences in human posterior scleral and optic nerve stump deformation

Ehab A. Tamimi, Jeffrey D. Pyne, Dominic K. Muli, Katelyn F. Axman, Stephen J. Howerton, Matthew R. Davis, Christopher A. Girkin, Jonathan P. Vande Geest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. The purpose of this study was to quantify the biomechanical response of human posterior ocular tissues from donors of various racioethnic groups to better understand how differences in these properties may play a role in the racioethnic health disparities known to exist in glaucoma. METHODS. Sequential digital image correlation (S-DIC) was used to measure the pressure induced surface deformations of 23 normal human posterior poles from three racioethnic groups: African descent (AD), European descent (ED), and Hispanic ethnicity (HIS). Regional in-plane principal strains were compared across three zones: the optic nerve stump (ONS), the peripapillary (PP) sclera, and non-PP sclera. RESULTS. The PP scleral tensile strains were found to be lower for ED eyes compared with AD and HIS eyes at 15 mm Hg (P = 0.024 and 0.039, respectively). The mean compressive strains were significantly higher for AD eyes compared with ED eyes at 15 mm Hg (P = 0.018). We also found that the relationship between tensile strain and pressure was significant for those of ED and HIS eyes (P < 0.001 and P = 0.004, respectively), whereas it was not significant for those of AD (P = 0.392). CONCLUSIONS. Our results suggest that, assuming glaucomatous nerve loss is caused by mechanical strains in the vicinity of the optic nerve head, the mechanism of increased glaucoma prevalence may be different in those of AD versus HIS. Our ONS strain analysis also suggested that it may be important to account for ONS geometry and material properties in future scleral biomechanical analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4235-4246
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethnicity
  • Glaucoma
  • Race
  • Sclera
  • Strain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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