Small-angle light scattering and birefringence properties of chick cornea

J Refract Surg. 1999 Nov-Dec;15(6):706-10. doi: 10.3928/1081-597X-19991101-20.


Purpose: Techniques employing polarized light propagation and scattering are useful in examining the cornea's lamellar structure. Recent advances in theoretical methods have significantly increased the ability to relate features of lamellar arrangements to measurements of transmitted polarized light. The chick cornea, because of its hypothesized structure of a gradual helical rotation of lamellar pairs, presents an interesting model for further development of this methodology.

Methods: Small-angle light scattering (SALS) and polarized transmission measurements were made on 7-week-old chick corneas under conditions that closely approximate the physiological state. Birefringence properties were determined from the transmission measurements and compared to the results of model calculations of polarized light propagating through lamellae organized according to the hypothesized structure for chick cornea.

Results: The I+ small-angle light scattering pattern had 4 cloverleaf lobes aligned with the crossed polarizer and analyzer axes. The lobes disappeared when the transcorneal pressure was increased from zero to 18 mmHg. Retardation measured at 18 mmHg was very small (approximately 0.01 microm).

Conclusion: The disappearance of the I+ small-angle light scattering pattern when IOP is increased suggests that the lamellae undulate in their relaxed state and the undulations straighten when IOP is increased. Measured birefringence properties are consistent with the hypothesized lamellar structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Birefringence*
  • Collagen / ultrastructure
  • Cornea / anatomy & histology
  • Cornea / physiology*
  • Corneal Stroma / physiology
  • Corneal Stroma / ultrastructure
  • Light*
  • Models, Biological


  • Collagen