Biomechanical Response of the Human Eye to Dynamic Loading

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Virginia Tech

Blindness due to ocular trauma is a significant problem in the United States considering that each year approximately 500,000 years of eyesight are lost. The most likely sources of eye injuries include sports related impacts, automobile accidents, consumer products, and military combat. Out of the 1.9 million total eye injuries in the country, more than 600,000 sports injuries occur each year and 40,000 of them require emergency care. In 2007, approximately 66,000 people suffered from vehicle related eye injuries in the United States. Of the vehicle occupants sustaining an eye injury during a crash, as many as 15% to 25% sustained severe eye injuries and it was shown that within these severe eye injuries as many as 45% resulted in globe rupture.

The purpose of this thesis is to characterize the biomechanical response of the human eye to dynamic loading. A number of test series were conducted with different loading conditions to gather data. A drop tower pressurization system was used to dynamically increase intraocular pressure until rupture. Results for rupture pressure, stress and strain were reported. Water streams that varied in diameter and velocity were developed using a customized pressure system to impact eyes. Intraocular pressure, normalized energy and eye injury risk were reported. A Facial and Ocular Countermeasure Safety (FOCUS) headform was used to measure the force applied to a synthetic eye during each hit from projectile shooting toys. The risk of eye injury for each impact was reported. These data provide new and significant research to the field of eye injury biomechanics to further the understanding of eye injury thresholds.

sclera, eye, injury, risk, material, pressure, properties, rupture, strain, stress