Corneal Dystrophies - Hereditary Corneal Disease:
Corneal Swelling is a common corneal problem; it is especially problematical after complicated cataract surgery. It is a frequent cause of corneal transplantation.
How is Fuch’s Cornea Dystrophy detected?
Fuchs’ is detected by examining the cornea with a slit lamp microscope and a specular microscope that magnifies the endothelial cells of the inner surface of the cornea.
The health of the endothelium is evaluated and monitored with pachymetry and specular microscopy.
Anatomy of the cornea
Normal Corneal Endothelium:
Abnormal Corneal Endothelium damaged by Fuchs Corneal Dystrophy:
Cases without known inheritance are the most common; some cases with autosomal dominance have been reported.
Symptoms of the Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy:
You may have the gene for Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy if you have one or more of the following symptoms:
Hazy vision that is often most pronounced in the morning
Fluctuating vision that is often most pronounced in the morning
Glare when looking at lights
Sandy, gritty sensation
What can I do to stop having these problems with my eyes?
Most people who are diagnosed with this disorder are told so in their 30s-40s when the signs first begin to appear. Since each case of Fuchs is unique and different, its hard to say what will happen with you. Fuchs’ cannot be cured; however, with certain medications, blurred vision resulting from the corneal swelling can be controlled.
Salt based solutions such as sodium chloride drops or ointment are often prescribed. These solutions will draw fluid from the cornea and reduce swelling.
Another way to reduce cornea moisture is to hold a hair dryer at arm’s length. One should blow air into the face with the eyes open. This technique removes moisture from the cornea. It will temporarily decrease swelling, and improves the vision.
In the early stages of this disease, patients will notice glare and light sensitivity. As it progresses, the vision may seem blurred in the morning and sharper later in the day. This occurs because the corneal swells at night due to decreased evaporation; the internal layers of the cornea tend to retain more moisture during sleep. This same moisture evaporates while the eyes are open. As the dystrophy worsens, the vision becomes continuously blurred.
How long do I have between diagnosis of Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy and actually having to get an actual cornea transplant?
That is actually hard to say as everyone responds differently to the progression of the disease. Fuchs’ generally tends to move very slowly when it comes to the progression of the disease. Most of those who discover they have the disease find out in their 30s and 40s. Most people do not do anything until its necessary. Symptoms generally tend to more prevalent when patients are in their 50s and 60s. It has been known to show up earlier than that well. This really depends on the person and their response to the progression of the disease.
Cornea transplants are common in the treatment of Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy.
Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy is an inherited condition. It affects the inner layer of the cornea called the endothelium. The endothelium functions as a pump mechanism. It pumps or removes fluid from the cornea. This allows the cornea to maintain its clarity. Those who have been diagnosed with Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy lose the function of these endothelial cells.
Once these cells lose their functional purpose, they will not regenerate themselves. The pump functions of these cells will be less efficient or effective. This will cause the cornea to become cloudy. It will also cause swelling and eventually reduced vision.
This disease is much more common in women than men by almost a 3-1 margin.
Epithelial swelling causes tiny blisters on the corneal surface. It also damages vision. When these blisters burst, they are extremely painful. Clouding of the cornea causes a haze to appear in the cornea.
In order to get this disease, you must have one parent or both parents be carriers of the gene which causes the disease. What this means a child born to these same parents carries roughly 50% the chance of carrying on this gene or not at all. Roughly 1% of the world’s population has the gene which causes Fuchs’ Corneal dystrophy.