What is the Cornea?

corneal-x-section-co.jpgThe cornea is the clear tissue covering the front of your eye. Like the crystal on your watch or the windshield to your car, your cornea serves as a protective window that allows light to enter your eye and come to focus on your retina. The cornea must remain clear for you to have good vision.  

There are three main layers to the cornea:
Epithelium: Much like skin, acts as a barrier to protect the cornea from dust, debris and bacteria.
Stroma: Gives the cornea its strength and dome-like shape--makes up 90% of the corneal thickness, mostly of collagen and other structural materials.
Endothelium: Provides the appropriate balance of fluid in the cornea, keeping it thin and crystal clear. The endothelium is just one single layer of cells located on the Descemet membrane (the blue line in the illustration above) and is the portion that is no longer functions correctly in patients with Fuchs' dystrophy that is replaced with DMEK.

Corneal disease, degeneration or scarring from injury can cause the cornea to become cloudy and blur your vision.  If corneal problems make it hard for you to see well enough to perform normal activities, such as reading or driving, a corneal transplant might help restore your vision.