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June 1979

The Human Limbus: A Scanning Electron Microscopic Study

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, and the Department of Cornea Research, Eye Research Institute of Retina Foundation, Boston (Drs Greiner and Allansmith), and the Ernest E. Just Laboratory of Cellular Biology, Department of Anatomy, Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, DC (Mr Covington).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1979;97(6):1159-1165. doi:10.1001/archopht.1979.01020010613022

• Fourteen human limbal biopsy specimens were obtained from seven normal subjects. The epithelial surface was examined by scanning electron microscopy. Epithelial cell surfaces varied greatly in shape and size, and mosaics of three- to six-sided irregular polygons were formed. Microvillar borders of cells were distinct. Cell sizes ranged from 3 to 20 μ across. Light and dark cells were present and randomly distributed. A few cells were covered with microplicae; the remainder of the cells were covered with microvilli. Intercellular crypt openings measuring 1 to 10 μ in diameter were distributed randomly over all specimens. These openings were believed to be related to goblet cells. Many openings were plugged with what appeared to be mucus. Many surface-level intercellular structures were present; they corresponded in diameter to the surface openings. The human limbal epithelium varies from both the upper tarsal conjunctiva and the cornea.

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