Light-scattering and ultrastructure of healed penetrating corneal wounds

Russell L. McCally, David E. Freund, Andrew Zorn, Jennifer Bonney-Ray, Rhonda Grebe, Zenaida De La Cruz, W. Richard Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To investigate quantitatively for the first time the relationship between light-scattering and ultrastructure of semitransparent scars resulting from penetrating wounds in rabbit cornea. METHODS. Penetrating wounds, 2 mm in diameter, were made in the central cornea and allowed to heal for 3.6 to 4.5 years at which time the rabbits were killed. The scar and cornea thickness outside the scar were measured using ultrasonic pachymetry. Corneas were excised immediately and their transmissivity was measured from 400 to 700 nm. The tissue was then prepared for transmission electron microscopy. Transmission electron micrographs (TEMs) were analyzed to determine fibril positions and radii. Scattering was calculated using the direct summation of fields (DSF) method. RESULTS. Scar thickness averaged 0.26 ± 0.04 mm, and the scars were flat. Thickness outside the scars averaged 0.40 ± 0.04 mm. Three scars were moderately transparent, five were less transparent, and one was much less transparent. The wavelength dependence of the measured total scattering cross-section was indicative of the presence of voids (lakes) in the collagen fibril distribution, and lakes were evident in the TEMs. The images showed enlarged fibrils and some showed bimodal distributions of fibril diameters. Calculated scattering was characteristic of that expected from regions containing lakes - a finding consistent with the scattering measurements. CONCLUSIONS. Despite the long healing time, these scars remained highly scattering. A combination of lakes, disordered fibril distributions, and a significant population of enlarged fibrils can explain the scattering. A possible cellular contribution cannot be ruled out.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-165
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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