Elasticity of the porcine lens capsule as measured by osmotic swelling

Tracy A. Powell, Rouzbeh Amini, Alina Oltean, Vincent A. Barnett, Kevin D. Dorfman, Yoav Segal, Victor H. Barocas

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10 Scopus citations


As an alternative to purely mechanical methods, optical tracking of passive osmotic swelling was used to assess mechanical properties of the porcine lens capsule. A simple model was developed accounting for the permeability of the lens fiber cells and capsule to water, the concentration of fixed charges in the fiber cells, and the capsule's resistance to the swelling of fiber cells. Fitting the model solution to experimental data provided an estimate of the elastic modulus of the lens capsule under the assumption of linear isotropic elasticity. The calculated elastic modulus at a fixed charge density of 20 mol m-3 was 2.0 ± 0.5 MPa (mean ±95% confidence interval; n =15) for 0.1% saline solution, 0.64 ± 0.3 MPa (n =10) for 0.2% saline solution, and 0.28 ± 0.5 MPa (n =6) for 0.5% saline solution. These values are comparable to previously reported moduli of elasticity for the porcine lens capsule at small strains (<10% ), and the slight increase with hypotonicity is consistent with the nonlinear mechanical behavior of the lens capsule. Although limited by being a single measurement on a heterogeneous tissue, osmotic swelling provides a quantitative assessment of the stiffness of the lens capsule without requiring dissection or manipulation of the lens. Thus, the new method could be useful for small animal models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number91008-1
JournalJournal of biomechanical engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Donnan equilibrium
  • Lens capsule
  • Membrane transport
  • Modulus of elasticity
  • Osmotic pressure


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