corneal epithelium(redirected from Epithelium, corneal)
corneal epitheliumThe thin, layered, outer ‘skin’ of the cornea. Advances in cell culture techniques have made it possible to grow complete sheets of viable corneal epithelium from a tiny sample taken from the edge of the patient's cornea. This is an important advance in the management of conditions featuring corneal epithelial disorders.
The outermost layer of the cornea consisting of stratified epithelium mounted on a basement membrane. It is made up of various types of cells; next to the basement membrane are the basal cells (columnar in shape), then two or three rows of wing cells and near the surface are two or three layers of thin surface squamous cells (or superficial cells). The outer surfaces of the squamous cells have projections (called microvilli and microplicae), which extend into the mucin layer of the precorneal tear film and are presumed to help retain the tear film. The epithelium in humans has a thickness of about 51 μm. Some dendritic cells of mesodermal origin are also normally present. Epithelial stem cells are located at the limbus; they give rise to the basal cells. The corneal epithelium receives its innervation from the conjunctival and the stromal nerves. The life cycle of epithelial cells is about a week (Fig. C20). See Langerhans' cell; epikeratoplasty; mitosis; pachometer; palisades of Vogt.