Scientist and physicians have discovered everything there is to know about the body, right? Wrong!
We only have hypotheses about how most of the human anatomy works. This makes the practice of being a Doctor quite tricky. As technology advances we are able to see smaller and smaller aspects which comprise our human bodies and this helps us understand the physiology. Recently new research has brought us one step closer to understanding the human eye. Dr. Harminder Dua, a Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Nottingham, has discovered a sixth layer to the cornea, appropriately named, Dua’s layer.
The cornea is the clear part of the front of your eye. It allows light to pass through the eye to the retina, located at the back of your eye, which constitutes sight. Until recently, the cornea has been thought to be made up of 5 layers. The epithelium, the front most part of the eye bathed in our tears. Bowman’s layer, lying just behind the epithelium, provides support. The stroma, which comprises a majority of the cornea, offers strength and resilience.
Next, behind the stroma, lies Descemet’s membrane, which separates the stroma from the endothelium. Lastly, the endothelium helps keep the right amount of water in the cornea. Now, the entire thickness of the cornea is on average 550 microns, which in lay terms is about half of a millimeter. That is very thin! Approximately 5 pieces of printer paper stacked on top of each other.
Dua’s layer, fits snuggly between Descemet’s layer and the endothelium, coming in at only 15 microns thick. This new layer is thin and very resilient, and possibly contributes to some problems that occur after cataract surgery.
The picture below was taken at the UIW Eye Institute in San Antonio, TX. It shows a section of the cornea, so we can evaluate its thickness and curvature.
This is just one aspect of optometry that makes it a challenging but rewarding career. As new research is released optometrist have to learn and incorporate these findings into their practice to provide the highest level of patient care. Never stop at what your professors say or what your books read, there is always something more to learn or discover!
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