© 2022 Optica Publishing Group.Although optical wave propagation is investigated based on the absorption and scattering in biological tissues, the turbulence effect can also not be overlooked. Here, the closed-form expressions of the wave structure function (WSF) and phase structure function (PSF) of plane and spherical waves propagating in biological tissue are obtained to help with future research on imaging, intensity, and coherency in turbulent biological tissues. This paper presents the effect of turbulent biological tissue on optical wave propagation to give a perception of the performance of biomedical systems that use optical technologies. The behavior of optical waves in different types of turbulent biological tissues such as a liver parenchyma (mouse), an intestinal epithelium (mouse), a deep dermis (mouse), and an upper dermis (human) are investigated and compared. It is observed that turbulence becomes more effective with an increase in the characteristic length of heterogeneity, propagation distance, and the strength of the refractive index fluctuations. However, an increase in the fractal dimension, wavelength, and small length scale factor has a smaller turbulence effect on the propagating optical wave. We envision that our results may be used to interpret the performance of optical medical systems operating in turbulent biological tissues.