Characterization of Rat Optic Nerve Head (ONH) Biomechanics through Finite Element (FE) and Sensitivity Analysis of Tissues
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ONH pathophysiology in glaucoma is poorly understood. However, the rat model of glaucoma is especially useful for learning how complex optic ONH biomechanics affect glaucomatous cell death. Because of human and rat ONH anatomical differences, biomechanical characterization of the rat ONH is crucial to the understanding of rat experimental studies. We built a FE model utilizing individual-specific rat ONH geometry to characterize IOP-induced stress and strain patterns in the rat ONH and conducted a sensitivity analysis to determine which tissue material properties have the largest effect on ONH strains. Principal strains in the baseline model averaged 4.6% with maximums of 7.4%, which is higher than strains previously found in human ONH models. The sensitivity study suggested scleral stiffness has the largest influence on ONH biomechanics, similar to findings in human ONH models. Comparing our results with experimental rat studies may illuminate how biomechanics affects glaucoma pathophysiology.