Eye Histology

Advertisements help pay for this website.  Thank you for your support.

Eye Development | Main Anatomy Index | Ear Development

Last updated 30 March 2006

This page was contributed by David Boshell

Eye Histology

Layers of the eye

  1. An outer, fibrous corneoscleral coat, including the sclera and the cornea
  2. The uvea: a middle vascular layer including the choroid, the ciliary body and iris
  3. The inner retina, including the outer pigment epithelium, the inner neural retina, and the epithelium of the ciliary body and iris.


The corneoscleral coat

  1. The outer layer of stratified squamous, non keratinizing corneal epithelium
  2. Bowman’s membrane, upon which the corneal epithelium sits
  3. The corneal stroma (substantia propria) forming most of the thickness of the cornea
  4. Descemet’s membrane, the basil lamina of the corneal endothelium
  5. The inner layer of cuboidal cells called the corneal endothelium


The Uvea

  1. The outer ciliary muscle, which alters the shape of the lens in accommodation.
  2. An inner vascular region extending into the ciliary process
  1. A discontinuous layer of fibroblasts and melanocytes
  2. The avascular anterior stromal sheet (lamella)
  3. A vascular layer of loose connective tissue forming the bulk of the iris
  4. The posterior membrane, containing the circular sphincter pupillae and radial dilator pupillae muscles
  5. A double layer of pigmented epithelium.


The Retina

  1. The inner, neural retina, containing photoreceptor cells, with a 10 layered structure.
  2. The outer retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) that sits on the choroid, consisting of cuboidal melanin-containing cells.

Layers of the retina, from the outside inwards

Retinal Pigment Epithelium

  • Melanin containing cells

Layer of rods and cones

  • Inner and outer segments of photoreceptor cells

External (Outer) limiting membrane

  • Apical boundary of Müller’s cells

Outer nuclear layer

  • Cell bodies of rods and cones

Outer plexiform layer

  • 1st synaptic layer, between photoreceptors and horizontal, amacrine and bipolar cells

Inner nuclear layer

  • Cell bodies of horizontal, amacrine, bipolar and Müller’s cells

Inner plexiform layer

  • 2nd synaptic layer, between horizontal, amacrine and bipolar cells and ganglion cells

Ganglion cell layer

  • Cell bodies of ganglion cells

Layer of optic nerve fibres

  • Processes of ganglion cells travelling to the brain

Internal (Inner) limiting membrane

  • Composed of the basal lamina of Müller’s cells
Back to top

Chambers of the eye

  1. The anterior chamber, between the cornea and the iris
  2. The posterior chamber, between the posterior surface of the iris and the anterior surface of the lens
  3. The vitreous space, between the posterior surface of the lens and the neural retina.


The conjunctiva


The Lens

  1. The lens capsule, produced by anterior lens cells
  2. A subcapsular epithelium, a cuboidal layer of cells that is only present on the anterior surface of the lens
  3. Lens fibres, derived from the subcapsular epithelial cells, which lose their nuclei and organelles to become filled with proteins called crystallins.
Back to top

Michael Tam (c) 1999