Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy Stages and Treatment

Posted by: West Georgia Eye Care Center in Frontpage Article on June 6, 2019

What is Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy?

Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy is a genetically linked, inherited disease affecting the transparent dome shaped, front of the eye (the cornea). It specifically affects the innermost layer of the cornea (the endothelium).  The endothelium’s function is essential to good vision, as it acts as a pump to keep fluid out of the cornea to maintain its’ clarity.  In Fuchs’, the cells responsible for the pumping action begin to die off and the cornea becomes filled with fluid.  The progression of the disease happens over a long period of time and is commonly divided into stages.

What are the stages of Fuchs’?

  1. Early – In early stage Fuchs’, patients may notice blurred vision upon waking that clears as the day progresses. This is because the fluid in the cornea accumulates overnight and dissipates throughout the day.
  2. Later – In later stage Fuchs’, blurred vision lasts for hours or throughout the day. This is because more pumping cells have died and the remaining cells are unable to clear the fluid from the cornea. The resulting decreased vision often affects the activities of daily living.
  3. End – In end stage Fuchs’, the fluid in the cornea weakens the outermost layer (epithelium) resulting in blisters on the surface of the eye that can break open. Scarring can result and may cause serious vision loss.

Who develops Fuchs’?

10% of people over the age of 60 are estimated to be affected by the condition and 35% of the people affected are women.  Smoking increases the risk by an estimated 30%.

How is Fuchs’ Diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with an eye exam. Fuchs’ most commonly presents after age 40, though symptoms may not be noticeable until after age 50 or older.  It is recommended by the American Academy of Ophthalmology for all adults to receive a medical eye evaluation after the age of 40.

How is Fuchs’ Treated?

The good news is that, while it cannot be cured, Fuchs’ is treatable. Treatment for early stages may be eye drops to reduce the swelling of the cornea.  Later stages may need surgical intervention, and West Georgia Eye Care Center has the regions only Fellowship trained experts in this type of surgery.  If you, or someone you care for, has a family history of Fuchs’ Dystrophy, or are experiencing eye and vision problems, we are here for you!