Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering


Soft Tissue Biomechanics as a Risk Factor in Glaucoma


Dr. Ross Ethier


GT Biomedical Engineering


Monday, November 19, 2012 at 11:00:00 AM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Robert Guldberg


Glaucoma is a common cause of blindness. It has long been known that intraocular pressure (IOP) plays an important role in this disease, yet the causal link between elevated IOP and loss of visual function remains elusive. The biomechanical theory of glaucomatous optic neuropathy hypothesises that mechanical factors, acting on cells within the optic nerve head, trigger a cascade of events that lead to retinal ganglion cell dysfunction. To evaluate this theory, it is important to understand and characterize the mechanical environment within the posterior segment of the eye, particularly within the optic nerve head. We present data based on a combination of finite element modelling, mechanical testing and imaging that demonstrate that scleral biomechanics are critical in glaucoma, a finding which suggests novel protective strategies for glaucoma patients.


Professor Ethier holds the Lawrence L. Gellerstedt, Jr. Chair in Bioengineering and is a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology & Emory University School of Medicine. Prior to joining Georgia Tech he was Head of the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College, London for 5 years. He received his Ph.D. from MIT in 1986, his S.M. from MIT in 1983, his M. Math. from Waterloo in 1982 and his B.Sc. from Queen’s in 1980. His research is in the biomechanics of cells and whole organs. He has published more than 140 refereed journal articles, and received both Steacie and Humboldt Fellowships. He has received the title of Fellow from the following organizations: American Society of Mechanical Engineers; American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering; International Academy for Medical and Biological Engineering; Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology; The City and Guilds Institute.


Refreshments will be served.