Lamina cribrosa sclerae
The nerve fibers forming the optic nerve exit the eye posteriorly through a hole in the sclera that is occupied by a mesh-like structure called the lamina cribrosa. It is formed by a multilayered network of collagen fibers that insert into the scleral canal wall. The nerve fibers that comprise the optic nerve run through pores formed by these collagen beams. In humans, a central retinal artery is located slightly off-center in nasal direction.
The lamina cribrosa is thought to help maintain the pressure gradient between the inside of the eye and the surrounding tissue. As a result of the Intraocular pressure it bulges slightly outwards. Being structurally weaker than the much thicker and denser sclera, the lamina cribrosa is more sensitive to changes in the intraocular pressure and tends to react to increased pressure through posterior displacement. This is thought to be one of the causes of nerve damage in glaucoma, as the displacement of the lamina cribrosa causes the pores to deform and pinch the traversing nerve fibers and blood vessels.
- Optic disc histomorphometry in normal eyes and eyes with secondary angle-closure glaucoma by J.B. Jonas; K.A. Koenigsreuther; G.O.H Naumann in Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology 1992; 230:134-139
- Three dimensional analysis of the lamina cribrosa in glaucoma by J Morgan-Davies; N Taylor; A R Hill; P Aspinall; C J O’Brien; A Azuara-Blanco in Br J Ophthalmol. 2004; 88(10):1299–1304