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    Building artificial corneas

    Research into keratoconus using extremely intense x-rays could refine laser surgeries, including LASIK, and may one day even lead to the development of an artificial cornea, according to researchers at Cardiff University, UK.

    Professor Keith Meek, head of the Structural Biophysics Research Group at Cardiff University, is using x-ray scattering techniques at Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchotron, to map the distribution of collagen in the cornea.

    The team found that the cornea's usual collagen arrangement is not present in keratoconic eyes, demonstrating how structural anomalies of the cornea can impact negatively on refractive capability. Synchrotron x-rays can be focussed on individual points, and Professor Meek anticipates that it will be possible to achieve a spot size of approximately 10 µm on the non-crystalline diffraction beamline within a year.

    If progress continues at this rate, Professor Meek believes the insights gained from such intense corneal mapping will aid in the refinement of refractive surgery and help to develop artificial corneal constructs.

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