A detailed morphological description of the spectacle of the ball python (Python regius) is provided. The eyes of 21 snakes were examined by light microscopy and/or transmission electron microscopy. Additionally, eyes of nine live snakes were examined using optical coherence tomography (OCT) and Scheimpflug scanning (Pentacam). The spectacle consists of three layers: outer epithelium, stroma and inner epithelium. The outer epithelium is made up of flat basal cells overlaid by keratin, the stroma consists of organized layers of collagen fibrils with interweaving nerve fibers and blood vessels, and the inner epithelium holds squamous cells containing vesicles and microvilli. At the rim of the spectacle, there is a transition zone, where the spectacle merges with the epidermis and dermis of the periocular scales. This zone is characterized by a greater height of the basal cells of the outer epithelium and a less orderly organization of the stroma compared with the spectacle proper. The thickness of the spectacle was uniform throughout. It averaged 96 ± 10 µm in histological specimens and 108 ± 13 µm using OCT. The subspectacular space was extremely narrow in the live snakes; however, the space was visible at the periphery of the spectacle with OCT.
Journal of Morphology, 2014, Vol 275, Issue 5, p. 489-496
Animals; Boidae; Cornea; Eye; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't