Multi-physics modeling and finite element formulation of corneal UV cross-linking

Shuolun Wang, Shawn A. Chester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The UV cross-linking technique applied to the cornea is a popular and effective therapy for eye diseases such as keratoconus and ectatic disorders. The treatment strengthens the cornea by forming new cross-links via photochemical reactions and, in turn, prevents the disease from further developing. To better understand and capture the underlying mechanisms, we develop a multi-physics model that considers the migration of the riboflavin (i.e., the photo-initializer), UV light absorption, the photochemical reaction that forms the cross-links, and biomechanical changes caused by changes to the microstructure. Our model is calibrated to a set of nanoindentation tests on UV cross-linked corneas from the literature. Additionally, we implement our multi-physics model numerically into a commercial finite element software. We also compare our simulation against a set of inflation tests from the literature. The simulation capability allows us to make quantitative predictions of a therapy’s outcomes in full 3-D, based on the actual corneal geometry; it also helps medical practitioners with surgical planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1561-1578
Number of pages18
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • Biological material
  • Finite elements
  • Multi-field problems
  • UV cross-linking


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