Fuch’s Corneal Dystrophy
Fuch’s dystrophy affects the part of the eye called the cornea. This is the transparent front part of the eye that covers the iris, pupil and anterior chamber. The cornea plays an essential role in our vision, refracting the light that enters our eye so that it hits the retina, which in turn passes messages up the optic nerve to the brain to tell us what we can see. When a patient develops Fuch’s corneal dystrophy, it can have a significant impact on their ability to see clearly, affecting their day to day activities.
What causes Fuch’s corneal dystrophy?
Fuch’s corneal dystrophy is characterized by degenerative changes in the cells of the innermost layer of the cornea. This cell layer is called the endothelium which is responsible for maintaining the proper amount of fluid in the cornea.
In a healthy eye, excess fluid is pumped out to prevent the cornea from becoming waterlogged. In patients with Fuch’s, the cells in the corneal endothelium die off and are no longer able to remove fluid from the cornea, leading to swelling and the range of negative symptoms.
Exactly what causes someone to develop Fuch’s corneal dystrophy is not known, although some studies suggest that it is genetic. If your mother or father has the condition, there is a 50% chance that you will also develop it as you get older. It is also most commonly seen in patients over the age of 50.
Symptoms of Fuch’s corneal dystrophy
Fuch’s corneal dystrophy usually affects both eyes, although not necessarily at exactly the same rate. The symptoms of visual decline associated with the condition usually develop fairly slowly and include:
Sensitivity to light and glare
Noticing colored halos around lights
Particularly poor vision first thing in the morning
Difficulty with night vision
The sensation of a foreign body in your eye
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important that you get assessed by our eye doctor.
Can Fuch’s corneal dystrophy be treated?
Fortunately, there are treatments for Fuch’s corneal dystrophy. The treatment recommended to you depends on which stage of the disease you are at. This will be confirmed at your diagnostic appointment. While there is no specific cure for the disease, our eye doctor will work with you to find ways of managing your condition.
In the early stages of the condition, our eye doctor may recommend treatment in the form of eye drops. They contain ingredients that will remove excess water from the cornea, thus alleviating swelling and the symptoms of the condition.
In some cases where the excess fluid is raising the pressure inside the eye, patients may be recommended to try glaucoma eyedrops which will reduce the pressure and the damage being caused to the endothelial cells.
If excess fluid is allowed to persist for some time, it can lead to corneal scarring. If this happens, or if your symptoms are so severe that you have very poor vision, you may need a corneal transplant. There are two different ways in which this can happen.
You may have healthy donor endothelial cells transplanted into your cornea to replace those of yours which have degenerated and are no longer functional, or you may have your entire cornea replaced with a healthy donor alternative.
If you would like to know more about Fuch’s corneal dystrophy, or if you are concerned about your eyesight and would like to schedule an appointment, call Progressive Ophthalmology today at 718-565-2020.