Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy

Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy is a progressive condition that affects the inner layer of the cornea, causing it to degenerate at a faster rate than normal. As this occurs, the eye’s natural fluid accumulates and cannot be drained properly, which leads to corneal swelling (corneal edema). In its early stage, Fuchs’ dystrophy provides a slight decline in vision, and as it progresses, vision loss is possible.

Although permanent corneal edema from Fuchs’ dystrophy cannot be completely cured, certain treatment options can help control its progression and relieve the associated swelling. At Eye Doctors of Washington, our experienced corneal specialists can determine the severity of a patient’s Fuchs’ dystrophy, and recommend the most beneficial solution for long-term relief.

Causes

Fuchs’ dystrophy is a genetic disorder that typically affects both eyes. The condition occurs when the endothelial cells—which make up the inner cornea—degenerate more rapidly than in healthy eyes. As these cells are gradually lost, and since they cannot regenerate, fluid within the eye increases, causing the cornea to swell. This leads to a number of symptoms.

  • Distorted vision that is often cloudy or blurry
  • Decreased vision in the morning that gradually improves throughout the day
  • Light sensitivity
  • Glare
  • Halos around light

The condition is more prone to develop in women compared to men, and is typically first detected when individuals are in their 40s or 50s. In addition, those who suffer from Fuchs’ dystrophy have a slightly higher chance of developing cataracts and glaucoma as well.

Treating Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy

To detect Fuchs’ dystrophy, our eye surgeons utilize a slit lamp with a specular microscope to closely evaluate the endothelial cells. Through this technology, they can determine the amount of damage that has occurred as well as the rate at which the condition is progressing. This allows them to establish an effective treatment plan accordingly.

Since Fuchs’ dystrophy is a progressive condition, it will continue to worsen if not treated. With an early diagnosis, individuals may only need medicated eye drops or ointment to help reduce their fluid buildup and corneal swelling. Bandage contact lenses may also be beneficial to minimize significant discomfort.

As the condition worsens, further vision loss and scarring may occur. When at this advanced stage, a corneal transplant or amniotic membrane graft is typically necessary to repair the damaged inner corneal layer. Should the patient also suffer from cataracts, this can often be treated in the same procedure.

For more information about Fuchs’ dystrophy, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

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