Your cornea in the front of each eye is transparent, perhaps seeming to lack substance, but it’s a highly-organized tissue that is important to your overall eye health and function. It safeguards your eye from foreign materials such as dust or bacteria, while providing a smooth surface to absorb oxygen and nutrients from tears. Here is more evidence to help you realize that there’s more to your cornea than meets the eye!
Thrives on tears
Unlike other tissues in the body, the cornea contains no blood vessels. Why is this significant? Blood nourishes tissue and protects it from infection. In the cornea, tears and the aqueous humor (a fluid in the front part of the eye) play this role.
Contains five layers
Your cornea contains five layers (from outermost to innermost):
The primary role of the epithelium is to block the passage of foreign material into the eye and to provide a smooth surface for absorbing tears and nutrients.
The Bowman’s membrane, or Bowman layer, is composed of protein fibers called collagen. If this layer is injured, it can form a scar as it heals. If the scar is large and close to the center of the eye, it may cause vision loss.
The stroma is the thickest layer of the cornea, and it’s made of primarily water and collagen; collagen contributes to the cornea’s strength, elasticity, and form.
The Descemet’s membrane is a thin yet sturdy film of tissue that serves as a protective barrier against infection and injuries.
Endothelial cells help keep the cornea clear. When fluid leaks from inside your eye into the stroma, the endothelium pumps this excess fluid out of the stroma.
Often resilient to minor injuries
In most cases, the cornea easily heals on its own after minor injuries. However, deeper abrasions can cause scarring and result in a haze on the cornea that impairs vision, including eye pain, light sensitivity, reduced or blurry vision, inflammation, and headache, nausea, or fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms after an eye injury, it’s important to seek guidance from an eye care professional.
As you can see, your cornea is important to your overall eye function and health. If you have any changes in your vision — eye pain, reduced or blurry vision, inflammation, etc. — contact us at Charleston Cornea & Refractive Surgery. We want to help you maintain good vision so you can enjoy every day.