Date of this Version
Vision Research 47 (2007) 1781–1789
The lens capsule of the eye functions, in part, as a deformable support through which the ciliary body applies tractions that can alter lens curvature and corresponding refractive power during the process of accommodation. Although it has long been recognized that characterization of the mechanical properties of the lens capsule is fundamental to understanding this physiologic process as well as clinical interventions, prior data have been limited by one-dimensional testing of excised specimens despite the existence of multiaxial loading in vivo. In this paper, we employ a novel experimental approach to study in situ the regional, multiaxial mechanical behavior of both normal and diabetic human anterior lens capsules. Furthermore, we use these data to calculate material parameters in a nonlinear stress– strain relation via a custom sub-domain inverse finite element method (FEM). These parameters are then used to predict capsular stresses in response to imposed loads using a forward FEM model. Our results for both normal and diabetic human eyes show that the anterior lens capsule exhibits a nonlinear pseudoelastic behavior over finite strains that is typical of soft tissues, and that strains are principal relative to meridional and circumferential directions. Experimental data and parameter estimation suggest further that the capsule is regionally anisotropic, with the circumferential direction becoming increasingly stiffer than the meridional direction towards the equator. Although both normal and diabetic lens capsules exhibited these general characteristic behaviors, diabetic capsules were significantly stiffer at each distension. Finally, the forward FEM model predicted a nearly uniform, equibiaxial stress field during normalcy that will be perturbed by cataract surgery. Such mechanical perturbations may be an underlying modulator of the sustained errant epithelial cell behavior that is observed well after cataract surgery and may ultimately contribute to opacification of the posterior lens capsule.