The effect of keratoconus on the structural, mechanical, and optical properties of the cornea

Raghu Ambekar, Kimani C. Toussaint, Amy Wagoner Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Keratoconus is an eye disorder wherein the cornea weakens due to structural and/or compositional anomalies. This weakened cornea is no longer able to preserve its normal shape against the intraocular pressure in the eye and therefore bulges outward, leading to a conical shape and subsequent distorted vision. Changes in structure and composition often manifest as a change in shape (or geometry) as well as in mechanical and optical properties. Thus, understanding the properties and structure of keratoconic corneas could help elucidate etiology and pathogenesis, to develop treatments, and to understand other diseases of the eye. In this review, we discuss the changes in structure, composition, and mechanical and optical properties of the cornea with keratoconus. Current treatments for keratoconus and a novel proposed treatment using two-photon excitation therapy are also discussed. The intended audiences are mechanical engineers, materials engineers, optical engineers, and bioengineers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-236
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Collagen cross-linking
  • Keratoconus
  • Mechanical properties
  • Optical properties
  • Second-harmonic generation imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials


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