The cornea is the clear covering of the front of the eye. It provides most of the refractive power of the eye, although this power is fixed. The cornea is the target for refractive surgical procedures such as LASIK and PRK. The cornea consists of five layers and each layer serves a specific purpose to ensure that the cornea functions properly and maintains its health.
The five layers of the cornea (from anterior to posterior)
- Bowman’s membrane
- Descemet’s membrane
These layers are all unique in function and each layer can be effected by specific pathology; both from genetic mutations and outside influence. For example, the eye disease keratoconus primarily effects the corneal stroma, Fuchs dystrophy effects the corneal endothelium, and anterior basement membrane dystrophy effects Bowman’s.
The cornea is one of the most fascinating structures in the human body. It is surprisingly strong considering how thin it is. The cornea also heals itself faster than almost any other organ in the human body secondary to the fact that it has active stem cells along its perimeter.