Retinal injury is the most common ocular impairment associated with shaken baby syndrome (SBS), which could lead to vision loss and blindness. However, a woodpecker does not develop retinal hemorrhages or detachment even at a high acceleration of 1,000×g during pecking. To understand the mechanism of retinal injury and its resistance strategy, we put insight into the special ability of the woodpecker to protect the retina against damage under acceleration-deceleration impact. In this study, the structural and mechanical differences on the eyes of the woodpecker and human were analyzed quantitatively based on anatomical observation. We developed finite element eye models of the woodpecker and human to evaluate the dynamic response of the retina to the shaking load obtained from experimental data. Moreover, several structural parameters and mechanical conditions were exchanged between the woodpecker and human to evaluate their effects on retinal injury in SBS. The simulation results indicated that scleral ossification, lack of vitreoretinal attachment, and rotational acceleration-deceleration impact loading in a woodpecker contribute to the resistance to retinal injuries during pecking. The above mentioned special physical structures and mechanical behavior can distribute the high strain in the posterior segment of the woodpecker’s retina, which decrease the risk of retinal injury to SBS.
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