Morphology of age-related cuneiform cortical cataracts: the case for mechanical stress.

Vision research (2008-01-29)
Ralph Michael, Rafael I Barraquer, Ben Willekens, Jan van Marle, Gijs F J M Vrensen

We evaluated the gross morphology, location, and fiber cell architecture of equatorial cortical opacities in the aging human lens. Using dark-field stereomicroscopy, we photographed donor lenses in toto and as thick slices. In addition, we investigated the details of the fiber cell architecture using fluorescent staining for membranes and by scanning electron microscopy. We then combined our data with data from recent studies on lens viscoelasticity. We found that small cortical and cuneiform opacities are accompanied by changes in fiber structure and architecture mainly in the equatorial border zone between the lens nucleus and cortex. Because the lens cortex and nucleus have different viscoelastic properties in young and old lenses, we hypothesize that external forces during accommodation cause shear stress predominantly in this border zone. The location of the described changes suggests that these mechanical forces may cause fiber disorganization, small cortical opacities, and ultimately, cuneiform cataracts.

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1,1′-Dioctadecyl-3,3,3′,3′-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate, BioReagent, suitable for fluorescence, ≥98.0% (TLC)