A group of students from the University of Nottingham have discovered a new part in the human body, virtually unknown till now.
This new 'body part' is a layer of the cornea, which was previously undetected.
The human eye has a layer of a thin, clear sheet of protective lens right in front of the eye. Earlier, it was believed that the cornea consists of 5 different layers namely the corneal endothelium, Descemet's membrane, the corneal stroma, the Bowman's layer, and the corneal epithelium (front to back).
However, this new layer is located at the back of the cornea, just between the corneal stroma and the Descemet's membrane, the scientists found.
They stimulated human corneal transplants and grafts on the eyes which were available for research at the eye banks in Manchester and Bristol to prove that this new layer actually existed.
While carrying out the surgery, they injected tiny air bubbles into the cornea to help separate its different layers. They then carefully observed each layer under an electron microscope.
Soon enough, they discovered both the presence and the location of the new Dua's layer (named after Professor Harminder Dua who discovered it).
Apparently, this new layer is just 15 microns thick as compared to the thickness of the entire cornea, which is around 550 microns.
"This is a major discovery that will mean that ophthalmology textbooks will literally need to be re-written. Having identified this new and distinct layer deep in the tissue of the cornea, we can now exploit its presence to make operations much safer and simpler for patients," Professor Harminder Dua, Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the Nottingham University, explained.
"From a clinical perspective, there are many diseases that affect the back of the cornea which clinicians across the world are already beginning to relate to the presence, absence or tear in this layer, "Professor Dua added.
The scientists also speculate that an ophthalmic condition, known as corneal hydrops, may be caused due to a tear in this Dua layer.