Ultrastructure in anterior and posterior stroma of perfused human and rabbit corneas: Relation to transparency

D. E. Freund, R. L. McCally, R. A. Farrell, S. M. Cristol, N. L. L'Hernault, H. F. Edelhauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose. The authors sought to discover whether there are differences in the degree of spatial order in the fibrillar ultrastructure between anterior and posterior stroma. Methods. Human corneas were obtained from eye bank eyes. Although they had been classified as normal, some swelling remained after 3 hours of deturgescence. Freshly excised, unswollen rabbit corneas also were used. Image analysis methods were applied to transmission electron micrographs of the anterior, middle, and posterior stroma of these corneas to determine the positions and radii of fibrils, the fraction of total area occupied by fibrils, and the fibril number density. Results were used to calculate the interference factor that appears in the direct summation of the fields for light scattering theory and to estimate the total scattering cross-section per fibril. The interference factor is a measure of the spatial order in the positions and sizes of the fibrils. Results. Electron micrographs showed anterior-posterior variations in size and number density of fibrils. The interference factor at wavelengths of visible light was lower in posterior stroma than in anterior stroma for humans and rabbits. In some instances in humans, the anterior interference factor was characteristic of mildly swollen cornea. When averaged for the electron micrographs analyzed, the anterior stroma was predicted to scatter approximately twice as much light per unit depth as the posterior stroma in humans (at any given wavelength) and approximately three times as much in rabbits. Conclusions. Calculations of the interference factor showed that there were differences in the anterior-posterior spatial ordering of fibrils. In human corneas, the differences could have been caused by intrinsic in vivo differences between anterior and posterior stroma; however, possible anterior-posterior variations in swelling between the two regions in vitro also could have affected the results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1508-1523
Number of pages16
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1995


  • corneal stroma
  • fibril statistics
  • light scattering
  • stromal ultrastructure
  • transparency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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