Scientists have discovered a new layer in the cornea, the clear window at the front of the eye.
The new layer is located at the back of the cornea between the corneal stroma and Descemet’s membrane. This new layer has been named the Dua’s Layer after the academic Professor Harminder Dua who discovered it.
Previously, researchers believed the cornea had only five layers. This clear protective lens is located on the front of the eye and is where light enters the eye. Since there are six layers to the eye, researchers may be able to associate certain diseases with the new layer.
Professor Harminder Dua, Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, said in a news release, “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,” he added.
Dua and colleagues found the new layer between the corneal stroma and Descemet’s membrane through corneal transplants and grafts on eyes donated for research.
They injected tiny air bubbles to separate out the different layers of the cornea and scanned each using an electron microscope. Scientists then studied the separated layers with the electron microscope.
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.
The research was detailed in the journal Ophthalmology.