The sclera provides the structural support of the eye and protects the intraocular contents. Since it covers a large portion of the eye surface and has relatively high permeability for most drugs, the sclera has been used as a major pathway for drug administration. Recently, microneedle (MN) technology has shown the possibility of highly local and minimally-invasive drug delivery to the eye by MN insertion through the sclera or the suprachoroidal space. Although ocular MN needs to be inserted through the sclera, there has been no systematic study to understand the mechanical properties of the sclera, which are important to design ocular MNs. In this study, we investigated a MN-based method to measure the puncture resistance and fracture toughness of the sclera. To reflect the conditions of MN insertion into the sclera, force-displacement curves obtained from MN-insertion tests were used to estimate the puncture resistance and fracture toughness of sclera tissue. To understand the effect of the insertion conditions, dependency of the mechanical properties on insertion speeds, pre-strain of the sclera, and MN sizes were analyzed and discussed. Statement of Significance Measurement of mechanical property of soft biological tissue is challenging due to variations between tissue samples or lack of well-defined measurement techniques. Although non-invasive measurement techniques such as nano/micro indentation were employed to locally measure the elastic modulus of soft biological materials, mechanical properties such as puncture resistance or fracture toughness, which requires “invasive” measurement and is important for the application of “microneedles or hypodermic needles”, has not been well studied. In this work, we report minimally-invasive measurement of puncture resistance and fracture toughness of sclera using a double MN insertion method. Parametric studies showed that use of MN proved to be advantageous because of minimally-invasive insertion into tissue as well as higher sensitivity to sub-tissue architecture during the measurement.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Molecular Biology