Eyeball discovery may mean safer surgery
Scientists have found a previously undetected layer in the cornea, the clear window at the front of the human eye.
The breakthrough, announced in the journal Ophthalmology, could help surgeons to dramatically improve outcomes for patients undergoing corneal grafts and transplants.
“This is a major discovery that will mean that ophthalmology textbooks will literally need to be re-written. Having identified this new and distinct layer deep in the tissue of the cornea, we can now exploit its presence to make operations much safer and simpler for patients,” says Harminder Dua, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Nottingham, for whom the new layer has been named.
“From a clinical perspective, there are many diseases that affect the back of the cornea which clinicians across the world are already beginning to relate to the presence, absence or tear in this layer.”
The human cornea is the clear protective lens on the front of the eye through which light enters the eye. Scientists previously believed the cornea to be comprised of five layers, from front to back, the corneal epithelium, Bowman’s layer, the corneal stroma, Descemet’s membrane, and the corneal endothelium.
The new layer that has been discovered is located at the back of the cornea between the corneal stroma and Descemet’s membrane. Although it is just 15 microns thick—the entire cornea is around 550 microns thick or 0.5mm—it is incredibly tough and is strong enough to be able to withstand one and a half to two bars of pressure.