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The cornea is the transparent front part of the eye that covers the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber, providing most of an eye's optical power. Together with the lens, the cornea refracts light, and as a result helps the eye to focus, accounting for approximately 80% of its production to 20% of the lens focusing power. The cornea contributes more to the total refraction than the lens does, but, whereas the curvature of the lens can be adjusted to "tune" the focus depending upon the object's distance, the curvature of the cornea is fixed.
The cornea has unmyelinated nerve endings sensitive to touch, temperature and chemicals; a touch of the cornea causes an involuntary reflex to close the eyelid. Because transparency is of prime importance the cornea does not have blood vessels; it receives nutrients via diffusion from the tear fluid at the outside and the aqueous humour at the inside and also from neurotrophins supplied by nerve fibres that innervate it. In humans, the cornea has a diameter of about 11.5 mm and a thickness of 0.5 mm - 0.6 mm in the center and 0.6 mm - 0.8 mm at the periphery. Transparency, avascularity, and immunologic privilege makes the cornea a very special tissue. The cornea is the only part of a human body that has no blood supply, it gets oxygen directly through the air.
In humans, the refractive power of the cornea is approximately 43 dioptres, roughly two-thirds of the eye's total refractive power.
Medical terms related to the cornea often start with the prefix "kerat-".
It borders with the sclera by the corneal limbus.
Additional recommended knowledge
The human cornea, like that of other primates, has five layers. The corneas of cats, dogs, and other carnivores have only four. From the anterior to posterior they are:
The cornea is one of the most sensitive tissues of the body, it is densely innervated with sensory nerve fibres via the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve by way of 70 - 80 long ciliary nerves and short ciliary nerves.
The nerves enter the cornea via three levels, scleral, episcleral and conjunctival. Most of the bundles give rise by subdivision to a network in the stroma, from which fibres supply the different regions. The three networks are midstromal, subepithelial/Bowman's layer, and epithelium. The receptive fields of each nerve ending are very large, and may overlap.
Corneal nerves of the subepithelial layer converge and terminate near the apex of the cornea in a logarithmic spiral pattern.
Diseases and disorders
Treatment and management of corneal diseases and disorders
Surgical procedures involving the cornea
Various refractive eye surgery techniques change the shape of the cornea in order to reduce the need for corrective lenses or otherwise improve the refractive state of the eye. In many of the techniques used today, reshaping of the cornea is performed by photoablation using the excimer laser.
If the corneal stroma develops visually significant opacity, irregularity, or edema, a cornea of a deceased donor can be transplanted. Because there are no blood vessels in the cornea, there are also few problems with rejection of the new cornea.
There are also synthetic corneas (keratoprostheses) in development. Most are merely plastic inserts, but there are also composed of biocompatible synthetic materials that encourage tissue ingrowth into the synthetic cornea, thereby promoting biointegration.
Non-surgical procedures involving the cornea
Orthokeratology is a method using specialized hard or rigid gas-permeable contact lenses to transiently reshape the cornea in order to improve the refractive state of the eye or reduce the need for eyeglasses and contact lenses.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cornea". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|