What is Fuchs’ dystrophy?

Fuchs’ dystrophy affects the cornea. It is a disease that occurs when cells in the corneal layer die. These cells are meant to pump fluid from the cornea to keep it clear. When they die, fluid builds up causing cloudy or hazy vision due to a swollen or puffy cornea. 

Fuchs’ dystrophy has two stages. In stage 1, problems are few. Vision is usually hazy in the morning but gets better throughout because while we sleep, our eyes stay as they are closed; however, while awake, the fluid dries normally.

In stage 2, vision remains blurry all day due to too much fluid building up during sleep and not enough dryibg during the day. Tiny blisters may also form in the cornea. The blisters enlarge and eventually break open painfully.

People in their 30s and 40s may have Fuchs’ dystrophy without knowing. Vision problems may not appear until later in age. This disease is more prominent in women than men.

What are Fuchs’ dystrophy symptoms?

  • Sandy or gritty feeling in the eyes
  • Eye pain from the tiny blisters in the cornea
  • Extra sensitivity to bright light
  • Eye problems worsen in humid areas
  • Very blurry or hazy vision from scarring in the cornea

How is Fuchs’ dystrophy diagnosed?

Your ophthalmologist will examine the cornea and measure its thickness. He or she will also check for tiny blisters.

How is Fuchs’ dystrophy treated?

Although there is no cure, you can control vision problems from corneal swelling. Treatment varies depending on how the condition affects your eye.

Potential Treatments:

  • Eye drops to reduce swelling of the cornea’s cells.
  • Use a hair dryer to blow warm air on your face from afar. This helps dry the surface of your cornea.

For very poor vision or scarred corneas, you may need a cornea transplant. There are two surgeries for this:

  • Endothelial keratoplasty (EK): Healthy cells are transplanted into your cornea.
  • Full corneal transplant: The center of your cornea is replaced with a healthy donor cornea.

Summary

Our cornea is kept clear by cells that pump fluid. With Fuchs’ dystrophy, these cells die and the fluid is no longer present to aid with this condition. The cornea gets swollen and puffy. Over time, vision worsens.

With this condition, it is important to see your ophthalmologist regularly to check for any changes in your condition.