Occurring in up to 5% of the population over 40, Fuch’s Dystrophy is a common eye condition that affects the cornea.
Certain people may be predisposed to Fuch’s Dystrophy, but eye trauma can play a role in the disease. Some studies suggest that oxidative damage is a factor, and that antioxidants might help prevent the condition.
Progression of this condition is often slow. Over years, Fuch’s Dystrophy can progress to severe visual impairment and corneal transplant can become necessary.
Causes of Fuch’s Dystrophy
The cornea is a the transparent covering on the front of the eye that works with the lens to help focus light. Because of its role in focusing, the cornea’s shape determines whether a person is nearsighted or farsighted.
The cornea of the eye is lined with cells called endothelial cells. In Fuch’s Dystrophy, these cells deteriorate. As they break down, the surface of the cornea cannot remove water as well. Because of this, water collects and the lens becomes swollen to the point that it distorts vision. At the same time, collagen collects in areas of the cornea which causes abnormal areas called guttate lesions.
Fuch’s Corneal Dystrophy Symptoms
People can have signs of Fuch’s Dystrophy on eye exam as early as their 30s, but visual changes may not occur for another twenty or thirty years. The main symptom is blurry vision, which is worse in the morning and improves as the day goes on.
Over time, as the disease progresses, vision may be permanently blurry or progress to complete blindness. People with Fuch’s Dystrophy may have other symptoms including seeing halos of light and light sensitivity. A person with Fuch’s Dystrophy can also have a visibly cloudy cornea.
Treatment of Fuch’s Dystrophy
Treatment consists of reducing the swelling with eye drops, ointments, or soft contact lenses. If the symptoms progress, a corneal transplant may be necessary. Fortunately, this surgery has a high success rate.
Dr. Schaible at Community Eye Center performs corneal transplants at St. Lucy’s Eye Surgery Center in Port Charlotte. Read more about Dr. Schaible click here.
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