Anterior and posterior corneal stroma elasticity assessed using nanoindentation

Janice M. Dias, Noël M. Ziebarth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Corneal biomechanics is an essential parameter for developing diagnostic and treatment methods of corneal-related diseases. It is widely accepted that corneal mechanical strength stems from the stroma's collagenous composition. However, more comprehensive insight into the mechanical properties within the stroma is needed to improve current corneal diagnostic and treatment techniques. The purpose of this study was to perform elasticity characterization of anterior and posterior stromal regions of human corneas using atomic force microscopy (AFM). Nine pairs of human whole globes were placed in 20%Dextran solution, cornea side down, to restore the corneal thickness to physiological levels (400-600μm). The epithelium and Bowman's membrane were removed from all eyes. Anterior stromal AFM elasticity testing was then performed on left (OS) eyes. Additional stroma was removed from right (OD) eyes to allow posterior stromal measurements at a depth of 50% of the original thickness. All experiments were performed with corneas submerged in 15% Dextran to maintain corneal hydration. The results of the study showed that the Young's modulus of elasticity of the anterior stroma (average: 281±214kPa; range: 59-764kPa) was significantly higher than that of the posterior stroma (average: 89.5±46.1kPa; range: 29-179kPa) (p=0.014). In addition, a linear relationship was found between the posterior stromal elasticity and anterior stromal elasticity (p=0.0428). On average, the elasticity of the posterior stroma is 39.3% of the anterior stroma. In summary, there appears to be an elasticity gradient within the corneal stroma, which should be considered in the design and development of corneal diagnostic and treatment methods to enhance efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-46
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental Eye Research
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Cornea
  • Mechanical properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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