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Cornea

The fibrous outer coat of the eye is made up of the cornea and sclera. The cornea forms the anterior transparent layer of the outer coat. It is a dome shaped elevation which projects from the sclera at the corneoscleral junction.

The cornea is an avascular structure, containing no blood vessels except at its margins. It is however highly innervated and is very sensitive to pain and touch. 

The cornea consists of five layers: the corneal epithelium, anterior limiting lamina (Bowman’s layer), substantia propria (stroma), posterior limiting lamina (Descemet’s membrane) and endothelium, arranged anteroposteriorly.

The main function of the outer coat is to protect structures inside the eye. The cornea contributes to this function by creating a structural barrier that protects the eye from bacteria and subsequent infections.

The cornea is also one of the main contributors to the optical power of the eye and acts as an anterior refractive surface for the eye. Light that shines through the cornea is partially refracted before reaching the lens thus reducing blurred or unfocused vision. 

Terminology English and Latin: Cornea 
Location Anterior layer of fibrous outer coat of the eye
Anterior to the pupil, iris and anterior chamber of eye
Layers Anterior to posterior: Corneal epithelium, anterior limiting lamina (Bowman's layer), substantia propria (stroma), posterior limiting lamina (Descemet's membrane) and endothelium
Function Acts as a structural barrier to protect the internal contents of the eye, anterior refractive surface of the eye and thus contributes to the optical power of the eye

Explore the structures of the eyeball in more detail using the study unit below.

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