Avian vision diseases in which eye growth is compromised are helping to define what governs corneal shape and ultrastructural organization. The highly specific collagen architecture of the main corneal layer, the stroma, is believed to be important for the maintenance of corneal curvature and hence visual quality. Blindness enlarged globe (beg) is a recessively inherited condition of chickens characterized by retinal dystrophy and blindness at hatch, with secondary globe enlargement and loss of corneal curvature by 3-4 months. Here we define corneal ultrastructural changes as the beg eye develops posthatch, using wide-angle x-ray scattering to map collagen fibril orientation across affected corneas at three posthatch time points. The results disclosed alterations in the bulk alignment of corneal collagen in beg chicks compared with age-matched controls. These changes accompanied the eye globe enlargement and corneal flattening observed in affected birds, and were manifested as a progressive loss of circumferential collagen alignment in the peripheral cornea and limbus in birds older than 1 month. Progressive remodeling of peripheral stromal collagen in beg birds posthatch may relate to the morphometric changes exhibited by the disease, likely as an extension of myopia-like scleral remodeling triggered by deprivation of a retinal image. © 2013 Biophysical Society.
Morgan, S. R., Dooley, E. P., Hocking, P. M., Inglehearn, C. F., Ali, M., Sorensen, T. L. M., … Boote, C. (2013). An X-ray scattering study into the structural basis of corneal refractive function in an avian model. Biophysical Journal, 104(12), 2586–2594. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpj.2013.04.053