Eyelid pressure on the cornea

Shaw, Alyra J. B. (2009) Eyelid pressure on the cornea. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The eyelids play an important role in lubricating and protecting the surface of the eye. Each blink serves to spread fresh tears, remove debris and replenish the smooth optical surface of the eye. Yet little is known about how the eyelids contact the ocular surface and what pressure distribution exists between the eyelids and cornea. As the principal refractive component of the eye, the cornea is a major element of the eye’s optics. The optical properties of the cornea are known to be susceptible to the pressure exerted by the eyelids. Abnormal eyelids, due to disease, have altered pressure on the ocular surface due to changes in the shape, thickness or position of the eyelids. Normal eyelids also cause corneal distortions that are most often noticed when they are resting closer to the corneal centre (for example during reading). There were many reports of monocular diplopia after reading due to corneal distortion, but prior to videokeratoscopes these localised changes could not be measured. This thesis has measured the influence of eyelid pressure on the cornea after short-term near tasks and techniques were developed to quantify eyelid pressure and its distribution. The profile of the wave-like eyelid-induced corneal changes and the refractive effects of these distortions were investigated. Corneal topography changes due to both the upper and lower eyelids were measured for four tasks involving two angles of vertical downward gaze (20° and 40°) and two near work tasks (reading and steady fixation). After examining the depth and shape of the corneal changes, conclusions were reached regarding the magnitude and distribution of upper and lower eyelid pressure for these task conditions. The degree of downward gaze appears to alter the upper eyelid pressure on the cornea, with deeper changes occurring after greater angles of downward gaze. Although the lower eyelid was further from the corneal centre in large angles of downward gaze, its effect on the cornea was greater than that of the upper eyelid. Eyelid tilt, curvature, and position were found to be influential in the magnitude of eyelid-induced corneal changes. Refractively these corneal changes are clinically and optically significant with mean spherical and astigmatic changes of about 0.25 D after only 15 minutes of downward gaze (40° reading and steady fixation conditions). Due to the magnitude of these changes, eyelid pressure in downward gaze offers a possible explanation for some of the day-to-day variation observed in refraction. Considering the magnitude of these changes and previous work on their regression, it is recommended that sustained tasks performed in downward gaze should be avoided for at least 30 minutes before corneal and refractive assessment requiring high accuracy. Novel procedures were developed to use a thin (0.17 mm) tactile piezoresistive pressure sensor mounted on a rigid contact lens to measure eyelid pressure. A hydrostatic calibration system was constructed to convert raw digital output of the sensors to actual pressure units. Conditioning the sensor prior to use regulated the measurement response and sensor output was found to stabilise about 10 seconds after loading. The influences of various external factors on sensor output were studied. While the sensor output drifted slightly over several hours, it was not significant over the measurement time of 30 seconds used for eyelid pressure, as long as the length of the calibration and measurement recordings were matched. The error associated with calibrating at room temperature but measuring at ocular surface temperature led to a very small overestimation of pressure. To optimally position the sensor-contact lens combination under the eyelid margin, an in vivo measurement apparatus was constructed. Using this system, eyelid pressure increases were observed when the upper eyelid was placed on the sensor and a significant increase was apparent when the eyelid pressure was increased by pulling the upper eyelid tighter against the eye. For a group of young adult subjects, upper eyelid pressure was measured using this piezoresistive sensor system. Three models of contact between the eyelid and ocular surface were used to calibrate the pressure readings. The first model assumed contact between the eyelid and pressure sensor over more than the pressure cell width of 1.14 mm. Using thin pressure sensitive carbon paper placed under the eyelid, a contact imprint was measured and this width used for the second model of contact. Lastly as Marx’s line has been implicated as the region of contact with the ocular surface, its width was measured and used as the region of contact for the third model. The mean eyelid pressures calculated using these three models for the group of young subjects were 3.8 ± 0.7 mmHg (whole cell), 8.0 ± 3.4 mmHg (imprint width) and 55 ± 26 mmHg (Marx’s line). The carbon imprints using Pressurex-micro confirmed previous suggestions that a band of the eyelid margin has primary contact with the ocular surface and provided the best estimate of the contact region and hence eyelid pressure. Although it is difficult to directly compare the results with previous eyelid pressure measurement attempts, the eyelid pressure calculated using this model was slightly higher than previous manometer measurements but showed good agreement with the eyelid force estimated using an eyelid tensiometer. The work described in this thesis has shown that the eyelids have a significant influence on corneal shape, even after short-term tasks (15 minutes). Instrumentation was developed using piezoresistive sensors to measure eyelid pressure. Measurements for the upper eyelid combined with estimates of the contact region between the cornea and the eyelid enabled quantification of the upper eyelid pressure for a group of young adult subjects. These techniques will allow further investigation of the interaction between the eyelids and the surface of the eye.

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ID Code: 31239
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Collins, Michael, Carney, Leo, & Davis, Brett
Additional Information: Recipient of 2009 Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award
Keywords: eyelid pressure, cornea, eyelids, corneal topography, videokeratoscopy, near tasks, reading, Marx’s line, eyelid morphology, digital imaging, piezoresistive sensors, ODTA
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Optometry & Vision Science
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 09 Mar 2010 06:19
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2013 01:40

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