The combination at the interface between two chemically identical polymers was investigated by light and electron (scanning, transmission) microscopy. The polymers constitute elements of a new type of artificial cornea in which the peripheral skirt is made from spongy poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (PHEMA) and the central optical zone from homogeneous, transparent PHEMA. Their two-phase combination along the boundary fulfill formally the requirements for an interpenetrating polymer network (IPN). The procedure for the manufacture of prosthesis was described in detail. Thin and ultrathin sections excised from the interface region were investigated using microscopic techniques. Light microscopy allowed the measurement of the diffusion path length of transparent PHEMA into sponge, which was approximately 0.5 mm. Transmission electron microscopy revealed a cellular-like morphology as well as larger segregated zones, which indicated network interpenetration on a molecular level and also a relatively poor miscibility of the two polymers despite their identical chemical structure. The latter was interpreted as a result of the submicroscopic restraints imposed by polymer I (sponge) upon polymer II. This study provides evidence that the interface combination of the prosthetic elements should be regarded as a gradient homo-IPN. This system offers a union between elements much stronger than those previously reported in artificial corneas. (C) 1994 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.