Blood Flow and Oxygen Delivery in the Back of the Eye
MentorIan A. Sigal, PhD
To understand how elevated eye pressure alters the hemodynamic environment in the optic nerve head, specifically in the lamina cribrosa (LC), where retinal ganglion cell axon damage initiates in glaucoma. In this project, we will pursue the following specific aims. In aim 1, we will use a customized microscopy system to characterize how intraocular pressure deforms the vessels in the back of the eye, specifically in the LC. In aim 2, we will develop eye-specific numerical models to determine the mechanical properties of the lamina vessels, collagen, and neural tissues. In aim 3, we will perform a systematic study to determine how morphometric, hemodynamic, and biomechanical factors influence the blood flow and oxygen concentration in the lamina.
Our project is innovative in three aspects. 1) We will provide details of intraocular pressure-induced vessel deformations in the lamina, which is critical to understand vascular dysfunction in the pathogenesis of glaucoma. 2) We will obtain the mechanical properties of vessels, collagen, and neural tissues in the lamina, which is essential to evaluate the LC resilience to elevated intraocular pressure. 3) We will identify the main factors driving blood flow and oxygen concentration in the LC, which can be clinically valuable in glaucoma management, diagnosis, and risk profiling. At completion, the project will represent the most detailed characterization of LC microvasculature and blood flow. In addition, it will point to the specific factors driving blood perfusion and oxygen distribution in the LC. These will serve as targets of future studies, first in basic research to verify models and validate predictions and later clinically to help prevent and manage the disease.