Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness and involves the death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Although biomechanics likely contributes to axonal injury within the optic nerve head (ONH), leading to RGC death, the pathways by which this occurs are not well understood. While rat models of glaucoma are well-suited for mechanistic studies, the anatomy of the rat ONH is different from the human, and the resulting differences in biomechanics have not been characterized. The aim of this study is to describe a methodology for building individual-specific finite element (FE) models of rat ONHs. This method was used to build three rat ONH FE models and compute the biomechanical environment within these ONHs. Initial results show that rat ONH strains are larger and more asymmetric than those seen in human ONH modeling studies. This method provides a framework for building additional models of normotensive and glaucomatous rat ONHs. Comparing model strain patterns with patterns of cellular response seen in studies using rat glaucoma models will help us to learn more about the link between biomechanics and glaucomatous cell death, which in turn may drive the development of novel therapies for glaucoma.

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