The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped covering over the colored part of the eye. About the thickness of a fingernail, this transparent tissue is made up of five layers (namely, epithelium, Bowman’s membrane, stroma, Descemet’s membrane, and the endothelium – if you’re curious). This tissue provides a protective barrier to debris (read our eye allergies article here), dirt, and germs that would potentially cause harm inside the eye itself. The cornea’s primary role is to begin the bending (refracting) of light that enters the eye to properly focus it on the retina. The cornea is lubricated and partially nourished by the normal tear layer (not the tears of crying).
Contact lenses are placed on this part of the eye as well. Laser eye surgery reduces or eliminates blurry vision by reshaping the corneal tissue so that it will perfectly focus light on the retina. Eyeglasses, contact lenses, and eye surgery are all ways to improve vision from an imperfectly shaped cornea. The cornea is a relatively soft tissue that can change shape by direct pressure or by a tightly fitting contact lens.
Though the cornea is clear, millions of pain receptor nerves reside there, and it’s a highly sensitive area. The cornea has more nerve endings than any other part of your body! As a result, a corneal abrasion or foreign body rubbing on the cornea can be unbelievably painful. All those pain receptors enable our body to tell us if something is wrong with the cornea. Fortunately, the cornea has an amazing ability to regenerate tissue quickly to repair any damage done to it.
Experiencing Changes in Your Vision?
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