What Is Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy?
Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy is a disease that occurs when the cells in corneal endothelium slowly degenerate and die. These cells remove fluid from the cornea, so you can see clearly. When the cells deteriorate and die, fluid builds up and the cornea swells, causing vision problems.
Symptoms of Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy
If you are in the early stages of Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy, you likely won’t experience many symptoms. Your vision may appear blurry in the morning and then improve during the day. Your eyes stay moist at night, allowing the fluid to build up when you’re asleep. However, the excess moisture dries as the day progresses, allowing your vision to get better.
As the disease progresses, you will notice more symptoms. These symptoms include blurred vision, glares in dim and bright light, and eye pain. You also might feel like you have a foreign object in your eye. The symptoms are typically present in both eyes.
The cause of Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy is largely unknown, although there are risk factors. You are more likely to get diagnosed with Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy if you have a family history of the disease. Also, women are more prone to get the disease, as are people in their 20s and 30s. However, the symptoms usually don’t appear until people reach their 50s or 60s.
Early research suggests that uncontrolled diabetes and smoking can also increase the risk of Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy. However, additional research needs to be conducted.
Diagnosing Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy
If you think you have Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy, you need to receive a proper diagnosis. Your ophthalmologist will use a slit lamp to examine your cornea, looking for signs of the disease. Also, your ophthalmologist might measure the thickness of your cornea to see if it is swollen. Along with the eye exam, you will undergo visual acuity tests to see if you have vision loss.
If you do have Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy, your ophthalmologist will discuss treatment options with you.
Treatment for Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy
While there is not a cure for Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy, treatment can slow the progression and help you manage your symptoms. If you are in the early stages of the disease, you can benefit from eyedrops that remove the water from the cornea. Your ophthalmologist also might recommend drying your eyes with a hairdryer. You will need to hold the hairdryer at arm’s length and point it at your face. This will dry some of the excess water to provide relief.
If you’re in the later stages of Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy, a corneal transplant might be required. Your surgeon will determine which type of implant surgery is right for you. You can undergo an endothelial keratoplasty to have endothelial cells placed in your cornea or a full corneal transplant. The surgeon will remove the center of your cornea and replace it with a healthy one.
Are you concerned that you might have Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy or have been diagnosed and need treatment? Schedule an appointment with Maple Eye and Laser Center for a comprehensive examination or to discuss your treatment options.
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