The cornea is the transparent, dome-shaped front part of the eye that covers the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber. It plays a crucial role in focusing visual information onto the retina, contributing significantly to the eye's overall optical power.

Function of the Cornea
  • Refractive Power: The cornea contributes about two-thirds of the eye's total refractive power. It bends (refracts) light rays as they enter the eye, focusing them onto the retina to form a clear image.
  • Protection: The cornea acts as a physical barrier, protecting the inner components of the eye from environmental damage, dust, and infectious agents.
  • Transparency: Its transparent nature allows light to pass through without obstruction, which is crucial for clear vision.
  • Oxygen and Nutrient Absorption: The epithelium absorbs oxygen and nutrients from the tear film and distributes them to the rest of the corneal layers.
Importance of the Cornea
  • The cornea's ability to refract light accurately is essential for sharp vision. Any changes in its shape or clarity can significantly impact visual acuity.
  • As the first line of defense against external elements, the cornea plays a vital role in maintaining overall eye health.
  • The cornea is highly innervated with sensory nerve endings, making it extremely sensitive to pain and foreign bodies. This sensitivity helps protect the eye by triggering reflex actions like blinking and tearing.
Common Corneal Conditions and Disorders
  • Keratoconus: A progressive thinning and bulging of the cornea, leading to a cone-shaped deformity and vision distortion.
  • Corneal Dystrophies: A group of inherited disorders that cause abnormal deposits or structural changes in the cornea, affecting its transparency and function.
  • Corneal Infections: Infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites can lead to corneal ulcers, scarring, and vision loss if not treated promptly.
  • Corneal Abrasions and Injuries: Trauma or foreign objects can cause scratches or cuts on the corneal surface, leading to pain, redness, and blurred vision.
  • Corneal Degenerations: Age-related or disease-related changes that affect the structure and function of the cornea, such as Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy.