Cornea – what is it?
The human cornea is the main focusing lens of the eye. When someone puts a contact lens in the eye, the contact lens rests on the cornea. If you have LASIK, the laser reshapes the cornea. When the cornea malfunctions, is damaged, or scarred due to infection, blindness can occur.
Eye doctors, such optometrist John Henahan in Peachtree City, Georgia save the vision of countless people because of the pioneering research performed around the world. Treatments for cornea diseases, glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts and macular degeneration all resulted from the tireless efforts of eye researchers in the USA and around the world. Most research builds upon the efforts of other, but occasionally a truly surprising breakthrough occurs. “This exciting discovery will have a significant impact on our understanding of diseases as common as keratoconus, Fuch’s Dystrophy and some corneal dystrophies” reports Dr. Henahan.
Dua’s Layer Discovered
The discovery of a new layer of the human cornea is just such a discovery. Professor Harminder Dua of the University of Nottingham in the UK used novel techniques and an electron microscope to discover the new layer that is deep inside the cornea. The layer has been named Dua’s Layer after the professor. Dua’s layer escaped discovery for so long primarily because it is so thin. At just 15/1000’s of a millimeter thick the super tough layer is invisible to normal microscopes and even electron microscopes without special preparation.
Clinical Importance of Dua’s Layer
Professor Dua said: “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. 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 discovery will have an impact on advancing understanding of a number of diseases of the cornea, including acute hydrops, Descematocele and pre-Descemet’s dystrophies. It will also likely impact a variety of surgical techniques that are used when a partial thickness corneal transplant is performed.
“It is even possible that this layer will have an impact on our understanding of how nearsightedness, astigmatism and farsightedness develops”, concludes Dr. Henahan.