Academic Editor: Thomas Heinbockel
Background: Energy storage, transmission and dissipation are important considerations of normal mechanical homeostasis. In this paper we present a new technique termed vibrational optical coherence tomography (VOCT) to study the anterior anatomic structures of the pig eye to better understand how energy applied to the cornea is dissipated without delamination occurring. Methods: VOCT uses infrared light and an applied sinusoidal audible sound wave to image and measure the resonant frequency and modulus of individual macromolecular components of tissue non-invasively. We have measured the resonant frequencies and calculated the moduli of tissues in the anterior portion of the pig eye using VOCT. Results: While both pig and human eyes have similar resonant frequencies, they do differ in the peak amplitudes near the frequencies of 80, 120, 150 and 250 Hz. It is known that the stroma of pig cornea is much thicker than that of human corneas and these differences may explain the normalized peak height differences. The similarity of the resonant frequency peaks near 80, 120, 150 and 250 Hz of cornea, sclera and limbus suggest that the anatomically described layers in these tissues are connected into a single biomechanical unit that can store external mechanical energy and then transmit it for dissipation. Since the energy stored and dissipated is proportional to the modulus and the ability of the tissue to deform under stress, energy storage in these tissues is related to the stiffness. Conclusions: It is concluded that stored energy is transmitted to the posterior segment of the eye for dissipation through the attachment with the sclera. This mechanism of energy dissipation may protect the cornea from changes in shape, curvature, and refractive power. However, ultimately, energy dissipation through thinning of the sclera may cause globe elongation observed in subjects with myopia and glaucoma.