MadSci Network: Biochemistry

Re: What are the lenses of our eyes made of?

Area: Biochemistry
Posted By: Karl A. Wilson, Faculty (Professor), Biological Sciences, S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton (Binghamton University)
Date: Fri Jul 11 16:09:55 1997
Area of science: Biochemistry
ID: 867597630.Bc
     The lens of the eye consist of a surrounding acellular membrane 
called the capsule, and two types of cells: epithelial cells and fiber 
cells.  The epithelial cells cover the front and lateral surfaces of the 
lens, and divide at the equator (edge of the lens to give rise to the 
oriented fiber cells, which comprise the bulk of the lens.  The fiber cells 
are characterized by a very high content of the protein crystallin (about 
1/3 of the weight of the lens).    This crystallin protein is probably what 
was refered to as "crystalline substances".  In fact it is not crystalline. 
 The remainder of the weight of the lens is made up of water and various 
small organic compounds.   The crystallin is actually a mixture of four 
proteins, alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta crystallin.  Mammals have the 
first three in their lens, with the delta found only in reptiles and birds.

     As far as the refractive index of the lens, you have me - I have 
not come up with a good reference.

     Should you be interested in more on the biochemistry of the lens or 
of the eye in general two useful references are:

The Eye, edited by Hugh Davson (1984), Academic Press.
Biochemistry of the Eye, by Elaine R. Berman (1991) Plenum Press

Hope this answers your first question!

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