All eyes are on new body part discovery hidden deep in the eye that will make eye surgery safer and will rewrite textbooks.

A previously unknown layer of the cornea has been discovered in the human eye, a breakthrough experts say could rewrite the ophthalmology textbooks covering the anatomy of the human eye.

The newly discovered layer of the cornea is a significant advancement in our understanding of the human eyeResearchers from the University of Nottingham found the new layer – which is just 0.001 mm thick – within the cornea, the clear window at the front of the eye — the dome of tissue that covers the pupil and iris.

It could help surgeons dramatically improve outcomes for patients undergoing eye surgery: corneal grafts and transplants. There are over 65,000 penetrating corneal graft procedures being carried out worldwide each year, according to Eye Journal.

Problems with the layer could also explain many eye diseases that until now were elusive in origin.
The new layer has been dubbed the Dua’s layer, after Professor Harminder Dua who discovered it, reports journal ophthalmology.

This is a major discovery that will mean that ophthalmology textbooks will literally need to be re-written.

From a clinical perspective, there are many diseases that affect the back of the cornea which eye doctors across the world are already beginning to relate to the presence, absence or tear in this layer.

Scientists previously believed the cornea to be comprised of five layers, from front to back, the corneal epithelium, Bowman’s layer, the corneal stroma, Descemet’s membrane and the corneal endothelium.

The sixth new layer that has been discovered is located at the back of the cornea between the corneal stroma and Descemet’s membrane.
Although it is just 15 microns thick – the entire cornea is around 550 microns thick or 0.5mm – it is incredibly tough and is strong enough to be able to withstand one and a half to two bars of pressure.

Researchers proved the layer existed by injecting tiny bubbles of air into the cornea to separate the different layers.

The scientists then subjected the separated layers to electron microscopy, allowing them to study them at many thousand times their actual size and revealing Dua’s layer.

The discovery will have an impact on advancing understanding of a number of diseases of the cornea.

With all the knowledge we have about our anatomy, it’s a rare thing when we can discover something new about ourselves like this, and even more rare and special when the discovery has a chance to have such an immediate impact on people’s health and eye surgery.

The scientists now believe that a bulging of the cornea caused by fluid build up that occurs in patients with keratoconus (conical deformity of the cornea), is caused by a tear in the Dua layer, through which water from inside the eye rushes in.

Most patients with keratoconus are not suitable for laser eye surgery.

(Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

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