As an alternative to purely mechanical methods, optical tracking of passive osmotic swelling was used to assess mechanical properties of the porcine lens capsule. A simple model was developed accounting for the permeability of the lens fiber cells and capsule to water, the concentration of fixed charges in the fiber cells, and the capsule’s resistance to the swelling of fiber cells. Fitting the model solution to experimental data provided an estimate of the elastic modulus of the lens capsule under the assumption of linear isotropic elasticity. The calculated elastic modulus at a fixed charge density of 20molm3 was 2.0±0.5MPa (mean±95% confidence interval; n=15) for 0.1% saline solution, 0.64±0.3MPa(n=10) for 0.2% saline solution, and 0.28±0.5MPa(n=6) for 0.5% saline solution. These values are comparable to previously reported moduli of elasticity for the porcine lens capsule at small strains (<10%), and the slight increase with hypotonicity is consistent with the nonlinear mechanical behavior of the lens capsule. Although limited by being a single measurement on a heterogeneous tissue, osmotic swelling provides a quantitative assessment of the stiffness of the lens capsule without requiring dissection or manipulation of the lens. Thus, the new method could be useful for small animal models.

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