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    New layer of the human cornea discovered

    Researchers at the University of Nottingham, UK, have announced their discovery of a previously undetected layer in the cornea, the clear window at the front of the human eye.

    This research has been published in the journal Ophthalmology and could potentially lead the way to improved outcomes for patients requiring corneal transplants and grafts.

    The layer will be called Dua’s layer after its discoverer Professor Harminder Dua and is located at the back of the cornea, between the corneal stroma and Descemet’s membrane.

    “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 now exploit its presence to make operations much safer and simpler for patients,” Professor Dua commented. “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.”

    The existence of this layer was proven through simulation of human corneal transplants and grafts on eyes donated for research. To do this the researchers injected tiny bubbles of air into the cornea to gently separate the various layers. Then each layer was subjected to electron microscopy to allow analysis to be performed at a vastly increased size.

    It is thought that this discovery will help to further knowledge of a number of corneal diseases and in fact, the researchers of this work believe that a tear in Dua’s layer could be a reason for corneal hydrops, a bulging of the cornea through fluid build up in keratoconus patients.

    Further information on this discovery can be found on the University of Nottingham's website here or the abstract may be found in Ophthalmology

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