Mechanical characterization of the bovine iris

J. Heys, V. H. Barocas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Quantification of the mechanical properties of the iris is necessary to assess the clinical significance of passive iris deformation, which has been suggested as a mechanism for certain forms of glaucoma. Extension tests were performed on isolated bovine irises to determine the passive mechanical behavior of the iris and the contribution of each of its two constituent muscles, the sphincter iridis and the dilator pupillae, to the overall properties. Because of the shape of the iris and our desire to use intact tissue, a 'loop' experiment was performed in which the iris was stretched by hooking the sample and pulling. A simple mathematical model was used to account for the geometry of the experiment and the progressive recruitment of tissue. Radial extension experiments on samples dissected from the iris were also performed. The iris was found to be anisotropic, elastic, and incompressible. The average azimuthal Young's modulus of the sphincter was found to be 340kPa; the average azimuthal Young's modulus of the dilator was found to be 890kPa, which was significantly higher (p<0.01). The radial Young's modulus of the dilator was found to be 9.6kPa, much lower than the azimuthal value. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1003
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Whitaker Foundation Bioengineering Research Grant and a University of Colorado Council on Research and Creative Work Junior Faculty Development Award to VHB. This work was also supported, in part, by NIH biotechnology training grant 5T32GM08345. The technical assistance of Nathan Koch and Daniel McCormick is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Dilator pupillae
  • Iris
  • Mechanical properties
  • Poisson's ratio
  • Smooth muscle
  • Sphincter iridis
  • Young's modulus


Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanical characterization of the bovine iris'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this