Overview of the Cornea: Structure, Function, and Development

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

89 Scopus citations


The cornea is a transparent tissue with significant refractive and barrier functions. The epithelium serves as the principal barrier to fluid and pathogens, a function performed through production of tight junctions, and constant repopulation through differentiation and maturation of dividing cells in its basal cell layer. It is supported posteriorly by basement membrane and Bowman's layer and assists in maintenance of stromal dehydration. The stroma composes the majority of corneal volume, provides support and clarity, and assists in ocular immunity. The posterior cornea, composed of Descemet membrane and endothelium, is essential for stromal dehydration, maintained through tight junctions and endothelial pumps. Corneal development begins with primitive formation of epithelium and lens, followed by waves of migration from cells of neural crest origin between these two structures to produce the stroma and endothelium. Descemet membrane is secreted by the latter and gradually thickens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMolecular Biology of Eye Disease, 2015
EditorsJohn M. Nickerson, J. Fielding Hejtmancik
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780128010594
StatePublished - 2015

Publication series

NameProgress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science
ISSN (Print)1877-1173
ISSN (Electronic)1878-0814


  • Cornea
  • Corneal development
  • Corneal structure
  • Descemet membrane
  • Endothelium
  • Epithelium
  • Stroma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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