New layer in human cornea discovered
New layer in human cornea discoveredReuters

Scientists have discovered a new part of the human eye. Though just 15 microns thick, the addition of the newly discovered body part will demand ophthalmology textbooks to be re-written.

The new part is a layer found in the human cornea and could help surgeons to further improve results in patients undergoing corneal grafts and transplants. The discovery was made by Indian researcher Harminder Dua, Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the Nottingham University, and is named Dua's layer.

"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 exploit its presence to make operations much safer and simpler for patients." said Dua in the university press release.

"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."

Scientists formerly believed that the human cornea - the protective lens in front of the eye through which light enters the eye, encompassed five layers i.e. the corneal epithelium, Bowman's layer, the corneal stroma, Descemet's membrane and the corneal endothelium, in the front to back order.

The scientists have discovered that Dua's layer is located towards the back of cornea, between the corneal stroma and the Descemet's membrane. While the entire cornea is around 550 microns thick (0.5mm), the new layer is just around 15 microns thick and has proved to be incredibly strong and tough which enables it to withstand about one and a half to two bars of pressure.

According to the scientists, corneal hydrops (bulging of cornea by fluid buildups) found in Keratonus patients are caused by a tear in the Dua's layer by which the water from inside the eye flows and results in water-logging.

The discovery made during a research study on eyes donated to eye banks located in Bristol and Manchestar. The study has been published in the Academic Journal of Ophthalmology.