A Morphoelastic Shell Model of the Eye

L. S. Kimpton, B. J. Walker, C. L. Hall, B. Bintu, David Crosby, H. M. Byrne, A. Goriely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The eye grows during childhood to position the retina at the correct distance behind the lens to enable focused vision, a process called emmetropization. Animal studies have demonstrated that this growth process is dependent upon visual stimuli, but dependent on genetic and environmental factors that affect the likelihood of developing myopia. The coupling between optical signal, growth, remodeling, and elastic response in the eye is particularly challenging to understand. To analyse this coupling, we develop a minimal morphoelastic model of an eye growing under intraocular pressure in response to visual stimuli. Distinct to existing three-dimensional finite-element models of the eye, we treat the sclera as a thin axisymmetric hyperelastic shell which undergoes local growth in response to external stimulus. This simplified analytic morphoelastic model provides a tractable framework in which we can evaluate various emmetropization hypotheses and understand different types of growth feedback. As an example, we demonstrate that local growth laws are sufficient to tune the global size and shape of the eye for focused vision across a wide range of parameter values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-29
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Elasticity
Issue number1-2
Early online date20 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2021


  • Elastic shell
  • Emmetropization
  • Eye
  • Morphoelasticity
  • Myopia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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