The viscoelastic properties of passive eye muscle in primates: I: Static and step responses

Christian Quaia, Howard S. Ying, Altah M. Nichols, Lance M. Optican

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The viscoelastic properties of passive eye muscles are prime determinants of the deficits observed following eye muscle paralysis, the root cause of several types of strabismus. Our limited knowledge about such properties is hindering the ability of eye plant models to assist in formulating a patient's diagnosis and prognosis. To investigate these properties we conducted an extensive in vivo study of the mechanics of passive eye muscles in deeply anesthetized and paralyzed monkeys. We describe here the static length-tension relationship and the transient forces elicited by small step-like elongations. We found that the static force increases nonlinearly with length, as previously shown. As expected, an elongation step induces a fast rise in force, followed by a prolonged decay. The time course of the decay is however considerably more complex than previously thought, indicating the presence of several relaxation processes, with time constants ranging from 1 ms to at least 40 s. The mechanical properties of passive eye muscles are thus similar to those of many other biological passive tissues. Eye plant models, which for lack of data had to rely on (erroneous) assumptions, will have to be updated to incorporate these properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4850
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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