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Changes and Quantitative Characterization of Hyper-Viscoelastic Biomechanical Properties for Young Corneal Stroma after Standard Corneal Cross-Linking Treatment with Different Ultraviolet-A Energies

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Document pages: 50 pages

Abstract: Corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL) treatment can restore vision in patients suffering from keratoconus and corneal injury, by improving the mechanical properties of the cornea. The correlation between ultraviolet-A (UVA) irradiant energies of standard CXL (SCXL) and corneal visco-hyperelastic mechanical behavior remains unknown. In this study, SCXL with four different UVA irradiant energy doses (0-5.4 J cm2) were administered as part of quantitative treatments of corneal stromal lenticules extracted from young myopic patients via small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) corneal refractive surgery. Double-strip samples with symmetric geometries were cut simultaneously for SCXL treatment and non-treated control. First, 40 pairs of strips were loaded to failure to assess the mechanical parameters of the material. Then, another 40 pairs were tested using a special uniaxial tensile test including quasi-static loading-unloading, instantaneous loading, and stress relaxation, to determine the visco-hyperelastic mechanical behavior. Upon combining the collagen fibril crimping constitutive model with the quasi-linear viscoelastic model, it was observed that with increasing UVA energy dose, the corneal strength and hyperelastic stiffness were significantly enhanced, while the toughness and viscosity of the cornea were significantly reduced. Considering the quantitative analysis of SCXL and the rehabilitation prediction of keratoconus treatment, the results clarify the biomechanical behavior of human corneal stroma in SCXL clinical surgery.

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