Morphology and movement of corneal surface cells in humans

William D. Mathers, Michael A. Lemp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


We examined the morphology of the corneal surface epithelial cells in 13 eyes of 13 subjects using specular microscopy. We determined cell area, perimeter, and shape comparing the central cornea with the inferior and superior periphery. We found surface epithelial cells are significantly smaller in the central cornea. The cells measured 560 ± 93 square microns in the central cornea, 850 ± 135 square microns in the superior cornea and 777 ± 176 square microns in the inferior cornea (p < 005). Newly emerged surface cells are smaller and are thought to enlarge with time. We postulate that lid shearing forces are greater in the central cornea and contribute to epithelial cell exfoliation. We further postulate that preferential shearing of central corneal surface cells is an important factor driving the centripetal movement of corneal epithelial cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-523
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Eye Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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