Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy is an inherited condition in which the cornea becomes progressively cloudy and there is a gradual loss of vision.
In its early stages there is no treatment required however if it progresses sufferers may need a corneal transplant.
What is Fuchs Corneal Dystrophy?
F.C.D. affects the innermost layer of the cornea – the endothelium – a thin, single layer of cells which controls the fluids in and out of the cornea. With age it is normal for some of these cells to be lost, however in F.C.D. this process is speeded up losing many more cells than normal.
This causes the endothelial “barrier” to be less effective at preventing fluid entering the cornea and leads to corneal swelling (oedema). Essentially the cornea gets “waterlogged” which causes a reduction in vision.
There can also be deposits (guttae) which form on the back of the cornea causing light scatter and symptoms of glare.
As the condition progresses fluid begins to collect in the epithelium (the outermost layer of the cornea) and causes this to swell. The epithelium contains many nerve endings and this swelling can lead to symptoms of sore, gritty eyes. In severe cases the epithelium can blister (bullae). This is called Bullous Keratopathy and requires a corneal transplant.
What are the Symptoms of Fuchs Corneal Dystrophy?
- Blurred, foggy vision, especially in the mornings, getting better through the day.
- Glare and photosensitivity; halos around light sources.
- Eye pain; gritty sensation.
- Poor night vision.
Who Gets Fuchs Corneal Dystrophy?
F.C.D. is an inherited condition however because some sufferers will have little or no symptoms, patients may not know F.C.D. is in the family. It usually affects people in their 40s and 50s but can often be seen in it’s early (symptom free) stages in younger people. It is 3 or 4 times more prevalent in women and normally affects both eyes.
How can Fuchs Corneal Dystrophy be Treated?
In many cases Fuchs Corneal Dystrophy requires no treatment as the sufferer may have no visual symptoms. There are no medications, supplements or eye drops to treat this condition however as it progresses the use of artificial tears and painkillers may help alleviate symptoms of gritty sore eyes. Sodium chloride drops may be prescribed to help remove some of the excess fluid from the cornea.
Photochromic spectacle lenses can help with the sensitivity to sunlight and antireflective lenses can reduce symptoms of glare. However, in its most severe cases, the only treatment available is corneal transplant.