Fuchs’ Dystrophy

Fuchs’ dystrophy is a disease of the cornea. It is when cells in the corneal layer called the endothelium gradually die off. These cells normally pump fluid from the cornea to keep the vision clear. Whey they die, fluid builds up and the cornea gets swollen and puffy. Vision becomes cloudy or hazy.

Fuchs’ dystrophy had two stages. Stage 1 (early stage) vision is usually hazy in the morning. Later stage 2, vision remains blurry all day.

People in their 30s and 40s may have Fuchs’ dystrophy but not know it. Vision problems might not appear until age 50 or later. Women are more likely than men to have Fuchs’ dystrophy. Family history of this disease increases your risk of developing Fuchs’ Dystrophy.

The ophthalmologist will closely look at the cornea and measure its thickness. This is called pachymetry. They will also check for tiny blisters on the front surface of the cornea and drop-like bumps on the back surface of the cornea.

 

Symptoms

Stage 1:

  • Few if any symptoms.
  • Vision may be hazy or blurry early and improve throughout the day. This is a result of the eyes being moist when sleeping, however when awake the fluid dries normally.

Stage 2:

  • Blurry or hazy vision does not get better as the day goes on. Too much fluid builds up during sleep and not enough dries up during the day.
  • Tiny blisters may form in the cornea. Blisters might grow bigger and break open causing eye pain.
  • Sandy or gritty feeling in the eyes.
  • Eyes are extra sensitive to bright light.
  • Eye problems get worse in humid area.
  • Very blurry or hazy vision from scarring at the center of the cornea.

Treatment

Stage 1:

  • Use an eyedrop medicine or ointment to reduce swelling of the cornea’s cells.
  • Use a hair dryer, at arm’s length, to blow warm air on the face. This helps dry the surface of the cornea.

Stage 2:

  • For very poor vision or scarred corneas, a corneal transplant might be needed. There are two types of surgery:
    • Endothelial keratoplasty: Healthy endothelial cells are transplanted into your cornea.
    • Full corneal transplant: The center of your cornea is replaced with a healthy donor cornea.

The ophthalmologist will discuss the treatment for the condition.

Additional Resources

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