The influence of different tissue preservation (a test solution under development and a standard storage solution) on human cornea morphology, refractive index and hydration was assessed noninvasively by ultrahigh-resolution optical coherence tomography (OCT) over time. For 28 days’ or 15 days’ storage in the preservation media, corneas in the two media exhibited different structural changes with different onset times including epithelial desquamation, edema-induced cornea thickening and change in tissue refractive index. It was found that the variation of the group refractive index over time was only about 2%, while 25% variation of hydration was observed in the storage and subsequent return to normothermic conditions in both preservation media. The results suggest the two media involved different but correlated preservation mechanisms. This study demonstrates that the noncontact, noninvasive, and high-resolution OCT is a powerful tool for noninvasive characterization of tissue morphological changes and hydration process and for assessment of the effects of preservation media on stored tissue integrity. © 2011 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.