What is the relevance of the POPCORN project?
Successful laser-based refractive eye surgery provides efficacious and safe correction of refractive errors which are the second cause of avoidable blindness in the world. However, this type of procedures cannot be recommended to all patients and a careful preoperative examination is necessary, including a detailed analysis of corneal topography and thickness. In spite of this detailed examination and the high precision of laser systems, residual refractive errors still appears in some cases that are not easy to explain in all cases. On the other hand, as the laser refractive correction is not possible in cases of corneal ectasia, other corrective options such as the implantation of intracorneal ring segments have been developed.
This option, although potentially useful, lacks of sufficient predictability. The main explanation for the presence of unexpected residual refractive errors or the limited predictability of corneal implants is the extremely limited knowledge of the corneal biomechanical response to these surgical treatments. To this date, only the Ocular Response Analyzer (ORA) has been developed for the clinical evaluation of the corneal biomechanical properties which has been shown to be of limited validity and to provide metrics with no direct relation with the standard physical properties of the viscoelastic materials.
A new non-invasive and accurate system based on plenoptic imaging combined with an advanced biomechanical model has been developed to characterize the biomechanical properties of the cornea. The personalized and in-vivo biomechanical modeling provided by this methodology allow the clinician to predict the biomechanical behavior and status of the cornea after a surgical treatment and to avoid risks and bad effects that can cause the need of new treatments.
This modeling would also allow surgeons to define and select more predictable implants to correct refractive errors and corneal aberrations in static corneas. Furthermore, the standardization of the corneal parameters provided by this technology would convert it into a useful clinical tool for the diagnosis of a great variety of corneal disorders.