Fuchs’ Dystrophy is a common inherited disorder of the cornea affecting anywhere between 4 and 11% of adults. The cornea is made up of three layers and it is the innermost layer, termed the endothelium, that is affected by Fuchs’. The endothelium is responsible for keeping the cornea clear, much like a “bailer” is responsible for keeping a leaky rowboat afloat. In Fuchs’, the endothelium can get behind resulting in sinking vision and rising discomfort.
Early signs of Fuchs’ dystrophy may be detected in people who are in their 30s and 40s, however people don’t experience symptoms or problems until they’re in their 50s and 60s.
Signs and symptoms usually affect both eyes and include:
- Blurred vision on awakening that may gradually clear up as the day goes on
- Painful, tiny blisters (epithelial blisters) on the surface of your cornea — caused by excess fluid within the cornea
- Visual impairment, distorted vision and changes in vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Sensitivity to light
- Seeing halos around lights
- A cornea that is cloudy or hazy in appearance
Once Fuchs’ reaches the point of compromising either your vision or comfort, typically surgery is the only intervention that can restore normal functioning of the cornea. In the past, the only way to do this was to replace the entire front part of the cornea via a full-thickness cornea transplant or penetrating keratoplasty (PKP). However, currently the procedure of choice for Fuchs’ is lamellar procedure or partial-thickness transplant, the most common of which is Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK). Compared to a full-thickness cornea transplant, DSEK is much less invasive, has fewer risks and complications, and offers a much quicker visual recovery.
Contact our office if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, especially if they are getting worse and making it difficult for you to accomplish your activities of daily living.