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Fuchs Dystrophy

Background

Fuchs' dystrophy is a rare disorder that affects the cornea, the transparent front surface of your eye, and often occurs as an inherited disorder and typical gets worse with age or after cataract surgery. Fuchs’ dystrophy causes a variety of vision problems and can eventually lead to blindness.

Normally, the endothelium (the cells that line the back surface of the cornea) prevents excess fluid from accumulating in the cornea, which helps the cornea maintain its transparency. With Fuchs' dystrophy, the endothelial cells slowly deteriorate and as a result, fluid builds up in the cornea. The fluid build-up may cause cloudy vision, swelling, pain and loss of corneal transparency.

Symptoms

Early signs of Fuchs' dystrophy can be detected by your eye doctor in patients who are in their 30s and 40s, but most people don't experience visual symptoms or problems until they're in their 50s and 60s.

Signs and symptoms of Fuchs’ dystrophy include:

  • Blurred vision on awakening that may gradually clear up as the day goes on.
  • Visual impairment, distorted vision and changes in vision.
  • Epithelial blisters (painful tiny blisters on the surface of your cornea that are caused by excess fluid within the cornea).
  • Difficulty seeing at night.
  • Sensitivity to light
  • A cornea that is cloudy or hazy in appearance.
  • Seeing halos around lights.

If you experience some or all of these symptoms, and especially if they progress over time, see your ophthalmologist or optometrist. If your doctor thinks it’s time for surgery or you think you need intervention, call Dr. Walter to schedule a consult. Many eye conditions that cause the same symptoms as Fuchs' dystrophy require prompt treatment.

Risk Factors

People who are more likely to develop Fuchs' dystrophy include:

  • Women
  • People who are in 50 and older.
  • People with a first-degree relative (such as a parent or sibling) who has Fuchs' dystrophy.

Treatments

Dr. Walter may suggest one or more of the following methods or procedures to improve your comfort and stop your symptoms from progressing:

  • Use eye drops or ointments such as Muro 128 to reduce the amount of fluid in your cornea. These drops only provide temporary relief in mild cases of Fuchs’ dystrophy.
  • Use a hair dryer and hold it at arm's length. Do not try this without asking your doctor.
  • Receive a corneal transplant, also known as Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial keratoplasty, which replaces damaged cornea tissue with healthy tissue from a donor.
  • Participate in research or a clinical trial which involves studies of new ways to diagnose or treat a condition. Although, clinical trials don't always offer a definite diagnosis or cure, they may allow you to take advantage of the latest research regarding your condition.