Development of an eye model with a physiological blink mechanism

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Translational Vision Science and Technology


Purpose: To develop an eye model with a physiological blink mechanism. Methods: All parts of the eye model were designed using computer-aided design software. The eyelid consisted of a unique 3D printed structure containing teeth to physically secure a flexible membrane. Both the eyeball and eyelid membrane were synthesized using polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). Four molecular weights of PVA (89–98, 85– 124, 130, and 146–186 kDa) were tested at a range of concentrations between 5% and 30% weight/volume. The wettability and water content of these materials were compared with the bovine cornea and sclera. The model was connected to a microfluidic pump, which delivers artificial tear solution (ATS) to the eyelid. A corneal topographer was used to evaluate the tear break-up and tear film regeneration. Results: The eyelid flexes and slides across the eyeball during each blink, which ensures direct contact between the two surfaces. When loaded with an ATS, this mechanism evenly spreads the solution over the eyeball to generate an artificial tear film. The artificial tear film in this eye model had a tear break-up time (TBUT) of 5.13 6 0.09 seconds at 1.4 lL/min flow rate, 6 blinks/min, and <25% humidity. Conclusions: This model simulates a physiological blink actuation and an artificial tear film layer. Future studies will examine variations in flow rates and ATS composition to simulate clinical values of TBUT. Translational Relevance: The eye model could be used to study in vitro TBUT, tear deposition, and simple drug delivery.



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