The cornea is the transparent, dome-shaped window that covers the front of the eye. Although it is clear and seems to lack substance, the cornea is actually a highly organized group of cells and proteins. Its functions include shielding the eye from germs, dust, UV light, and other harmful matter and acting as the eye's outermost lens.
Approximately 120 million people in the United States wear eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. These vision disorders are often the result of incorrect curvature or irregular shape of the cornea and are the most common vision disorders in this country. Other diseases that affect the cornea range from bacterial, fungal, and viral infections (keratitis) and allergies to various dystrophies including keratoconus.
"Corneal damage and disorders account for several million cases of impaired vision and are second to cataracts as the most important cause of blindness in the world," explains study author Dr. Jan J. Enghild of the University of Aarhus in Denmark. "Corneal infections by bacteria, fungi, or viruses are common disorders that can lead to corneal opacification. A group of inherited corneal disorders including granular and lattice corneal dystrophies are characterized by deposition of insoluble and opaque macromolecules in the cornea. Other disorders associated with loss of corneal transparency arise from cornea swelling (Fuchs' dystrophy) or thinning and change of curvature of the cornea (keratoconus)."
In order to learn more about the cornea and corneal disorders, Dr.
Source:American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology