As some of you know, I have a had some eye health challenges over the last several years. I have something called keratoconus in both eyes. It’s a condition where the normally round cornea (the transparent front part of the eye that covers the iris & pupil) thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape. Two weeks ago, I had eye surgery to stabilize the cornea to prevent it from thinning and bulging more. The procedure involved stripping the outer layer of cells from the cornea, infusing my eye with vitamin B2 drops and activating the collagen (to stabilize the cornea) with ultraviolet light.
The afternoon of the surgery was not pretty. It was painful and my eye wouldn’t stop watering. I had to put a towel over my head and just sit because my eye was extremely light sensitive. What amazed me so much was the healing that had occurred by the next morning. I had an appointment with my optometrist and she said the epithelium had healed over 30%! Thirty percent…..in less than 24 hours! The eye (especially the cornea) is the fastest healing organ in the human body.
The surface of our eyes consist of living cells that have the ability to rearrange themselves and migrate to where the cells are missing. This is different from a scratch on your arm, for example. The outer layers of skin on your arm consist of non-living cells, layered 3 or 4 cells deep. Because these top layers are already dead, they can’t move around and you have to wait for new layers of cells to work their way up to the surface (by sloughing off the dead cells over time) for the healing to take place.
Here are a few more amazing facts about our eyes:
– 7 million cells called “cones” help you to see colour and details
– 100 million cells called “rods” help you to see better in the dark
– if you wore glasses that ﬂipped images upside down, your brain would ﬂip the images and they would appear correct
– you blink 17 times/minute on average, that’s 5.2 million times/year!
– the eye is the fastest muscle in your body, a blink typically lasts 100-150 milliseconds
– if the human eye was a camera, it would have 576 megapixels
– your eye has over 2 million moving parts
– people with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor from a genetic mutation that occurred 6000-10000 years ago