Variation of corneal refractive index with hydration

Young L. Kim*, Joseph T. Walsh, Thomas K. Goldstick, Matthew R. Glucksberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


We report the effect of changes in the corneal hydration on the refractive index of the cornea. Using optical coherence tomography (OCT), the geometrical thickness and the group refractive index of the bovine cornea were derived simultaneously as the corneal hydration was varied. The corneal hydration was then calculated from the corneal thickness. The group refractive index of the cornea increased non-linearly as the cornea dehydrated. In addition, a simple mathematical model was developed, based on the assumption that changes in corneal hydration occur only in the interfibrilar space with constant water content within the collagen fibrils. Good agreement between the experimental results and the mathematical model supports the assumption. The results also demonstrate that the measurement of refractive index is a quantitative indicator of corneal hydration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-868
Number of pages10
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 7 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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