Ocular Biomechanics

Recent advances in technology have opened up new avenues for vision science research. One such area is ocular biomechanics, which is the study of the eye using traditional engineering principles and approaches. The UAB Department of Ophthalmology recognizes the bright future of ocular biomechanics and aims to become a global leader in the field with the establishment of the Ocular Biomechanics and Biotransport Program.

The program has already spurred recruitment of renowned scientists to UAB, including its founding director J. Crawford Downs, Ph.D. It has also accelerated research in this field, which possesses the potential for significant breakthrough in the treatment of blinding diseases.

Researchers in the program are studying glaucoma, myopia (commonly known as nearsightedness), age-related macular degeneration, and corneal biomechanics in keratoconus, as well as the biomechanics of ocular trauma. The new program brings together engineers, biologists, imaging experts, and clinicians to build the knowledge to further understand disease mechanism and improve treatments.

Meet our Ocular Biomechanics Research Faculty

  • UAB researcher awarded $1.23 million grant for glaucoma research

    Downs newwebJ. Crawford Downs, Ph.D., vice chair of Research in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Ophthalmology, was awarded a three-year, $1.23 million grant from the National Eye Institute to explore intraocular pressure fluctuation as it relates to the development and progression of glaucoma, a potentially blinding disease that affects more than 2.2 million Americans.

  • Grytz receives glaucoma award from BrightFocus

    Grytz SamulesRafael Grytz, Ph.D., associate professor, received the Thomas R. Lee Award for Glaucoma Research from the BrightFocus Foundation recognizing his grant, “Quantifying Collagen Remodeling of the Optic Nerve Head”, as the second-highest rated proposal received by the National Glaucoma Research Program in 2015. The award was presented at the Association for Research in Ophthalmology and Vision Science (ARVO) annual meeting on Monday, May 4, 2015. 

  • Young Scientist Makes Strides in Reengineering the Eye

    Grytzlab web

    For research pursuits, Rafael Grytz, Ph.D., has always blazed his own trail. That may explain how a civil engineer from Germany became as an assistant professor in the UAB Department of Ophthalmology.

    Grytz applies to the eye principles he first learned as a civil engineer studying shell structures, such as church domes or cooling towers of nuclear power plants. Early in his career Grytz realized he wanted to pursue biomedical research. Having graduated at the top of his class, he earned the chance to choose any area of study for his doctoral research. He made the unobvious choice and selected the eye, specifically diseases that impact the structure of the eye, such as glaucoma myopia and keratoconus.

  • Ocular biomechanics expert joins faculty

    Fazio webportraitMassimo Antonio Fazio, Ph.D., joins the UAB Department of Ophthalmology as an assistant professor. Dr. Fazio holds a joint appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. As a mechanical engineer, Dr. Fazio has dedicated his career to developing customized methods and non-contact optical techniques to measure deformations in loaded materials to gain a deeper understanding of the biomechanical properties of ocular tissues. His work is currently focused on investigating how intraocular pressure (IOP) drives structural changes in the eye in relationship to age, race, and ocular diseases like glaucoma.

  • Growth of Ocular Biomechanics evident at 2014 World Congress of Biomechanics

    The growth of the field of ocular biomechanics was on display at the 7th World Congress of Biomechanics July 6 to July 11, 2014, and the UAB Department of Ophthalmology Program of Ocular Biomechanics and Biotransport was at the forefront of this exciting meeting. 

    Rafael Grytz, Ph.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology, was invited to co-organize and chair the Biomechanics of the Eye Symposium, which featured 18 presentations and one keynote lecture about the field of ocular biomechanics.

  • Cable guys: Inside UAB's high-tech, custom-built approach to eye science

    Ocular BiomechanicsThe miracle of sight relies on a masterpiece of wiring. More than a million individual nerve cells scattered around the eye convert visual information into electricity. Then these individual cells are bundled together at the back of the eye into the optic nerve, which carries the signal to the brain.