Optic nerve head (ONH) deformations may be involved in the onset or further development of glaucoma, including in patients with relatively normal intraocular pressures (IOPs). Characterizing posterior scleral deformations over physiological pressures may provide a better understanding of how changes in IOP lead to changes in the mechanical environment of the ONH and possibly retinal ganglion cell death. Pressure inflation measurement test protocols are commonly used to measure deformation of the peripapillary sclera with full-field noncontact optical methods. The purpose of this work was to develop and validate a new sequential 3D digital image correlation (S-DIC) approach for quantification of posterior scleral pressure induced deformation that improves z (in-depth) resolution of the DIC measurement without losing in-plane sensitivity, while also being able to contour and map deformations of the complex-shaped ONH. Our approach combines two orthogonal axes of parallax with standard 3D DIC methods using a single high-resolution camera. The enhanced capabilities of S-DIC with respect to standard 3D DIC has been demonstrated by carrying out a complete benchmark for shape, deformation, and strain measurement on an object of known complex geometry. Our S-DIC method provided a reconstruction accuracy of 0.17% and an uncertainty in z-position measurement of 8 μm. The developed methodology has also been applied to a human posterior scleral shell, including the full peripapillary sclera and optic nerve. The relatively inexpensive S-DIC approach may provide new information on the biomechanical deformations of the optic nerve head and, thus, the death of retinal ganglion cells in primary open angle glaucoma.

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