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Profs Richard Braun and Tobin Driscoll have been awarded a National
Science Foundation grant to study the dynamics of the tear film on the
$375,000 grant lasts for
three years beginning in August 2014; the group has received continuous
funding to study this subject from the NSF since 2006. The new award is
entitled "Collaborative Research:
Tear Film Dynamics: Modeling, Blinking, and Computation," and it is a
collaborative with a separate grant awarded to former group member and
UD alumna Prof. Kara Maki at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
According to data from 2008, nearly 5 million Americans age 50 or older
suffer from moderate to severe dry eye syndrome (DES). Symptoms include
discomfort and reduced visual function.
The dynamics of the tear film is thought to be critical in the
development of DES; rapid evaporation and/or insufficient tears are
thought to cause chronic irritation leading to DES. Both of these
mechanisms can lead to elevated saltiness (osmolarity), which is
believed to be a key variable in understanding the irritation to the eye
surface. The results from this project will yield quantitative insight
into tear film flows and osmolarity dynamics that may impact how ocular
scientists interpret their data. The team will continue to work closely
with leading optometrists to achieve this goal, having already
co-authored more than a dozen papers with optometry collaborators.
Investigators based at UD and RIT will collaborate to study tear film
dynamics in an effort to better understand its function and to help
clarify causes and consequences of DES. The results will help explain
and visualize the complex tear motion during blinking and to quantify
the variability of critical quantities such as tear osmolarity. To do
so, new tear film models consisting of nonlinear coupled high-order
partial differential equations on moving, two-dimensional eye-shaped
domains will be formulated using a variety of methods from applied
mathematics and mechanics. The team will then develop two new
computational techniques to solve the models. Current tear film models
will be advanced by incorporating increasingly challenging effects of
evaporation and lipid layer motion on complex moving domains.
The project will
draw upon the thin liquid film literature and from close consultation
with experimental optometrists to make informed decisions about
mathematical modeling, comparison with in vivo experimental data, and
sensible interpretation of the results.
This award by the Mathematical Biology Program in the Division of
Mathematical Sciences is co-funded by the Fluid Dynamics Program in the
Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport
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