Changes of corneal biomechanics with keratoconus

James S. Wolffsohn, Saima Safeen, Sunil Shah, Mohammad Laiquzzaman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: To perform advanced analysis of the corneal deformation response to air pressure in keratoconics compared with age- and sex-matched controls. METHODS: The ocular response analyzer was used to measure the air pressure-corneal deformation relationship of 37 patients with keratoconus and 37 age (mean 36 ± 10 years)- and sex-matched controls with healthy corneas. Four repeat air pressure-corneal deformation profiles were averaged, and 42 separate parameters relating to each element of the profiles were extracted. Corneal topography and pachymetry were performed with the Orbscan II. The severity of the keratoconus was graded based on a single metric derived from anterior corneal curvatures, difference in astigmatism in each meridian, anterior best-fit sphere, and posterior best-fit sphere. RESULTS: Most of the biomechanical characteristics of keratoconic eyes were significantly different from normal eyes (P <0.001), especially during the initial corneal applanation. With increasing keratoconus severity, the cornea was thinner (r = -0.407, P <0.001), the speed of corneal concave deformation past applanation was quicker (dive; r = -0.314, P = 0.01), and the tear film index was lower (r = -0.319, P = 0.01). The variance in keratoconus severity could be accounted for by the corneal curvature and central corneal thickness (r = 0.80) with biomechanical characteristics contributing an additional 4% (total r = 0.84). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.919 ± 0.025 for keratometry alone, 0.965 ± 0.014 with the addition of pachymetry, and 0.972 ± 0.012 combined with ocular response analyzer biomechanical parameters. CONCLUSIONS: Characteristics of the air pressure-corneal deformation profile are more affected by keratoconus than the traditionally extracted corneal hysteresis and corneal resistance factors. These biomechanical metrics slightly improved the detection and severity prediction of keratoconus above traditional keratometric and pachymetric assessment of corneal shape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-854
Number of pages6
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • keratoconus
  • corneal biomechanics
  • corneal hysteresis
  • corneal resistance factor
  • keratometry
  • pachymetry


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