The condition in which the eye loses the cells that pump impurities and fluids out of the cornea is known as “Fuchs’ Dystrophy.” This disease progresses slowly and usually affects both of your eyes; it is found slightly more often in women than in men. While in some cases symptoms can be detected in your 30s or 40s, most of the time, this disease affects the vision of people in their 50s and 60s.
Fuchs’ Dystrophy occurs when, without apparent reason, the endothelial cells in the cornea gradually deteriorate, and as more of these cells are lost over time, the endothelium becomes less able to pump water out of the stroma. The inability to keep water and other fluids out of the stroma causes the cornea to swell and distort vision.
In time, the epithelium will take on water, causing pain and severe vision impairment. The swelling of the epithelium causes the cornea’s normal curvature to change, and a sight-impairing haze will appear. Swelling of the epithelium will also cause tiny blisters to form on the surface of the cornea, and when these blisters burst, the pain can be quite severe.
Waking up with blurred vision that clears up during the day can be a sign of Fuchs’ Dystrophy. The cornea is normally thicker in the morning because it retains fluids while we sleep that later evaporate while we are awake. As Fuchs’ worsens, the swelling remains constant and vision is reduced throughout the day.
Eye doctors will first try to reduce the swelling that occurs with Fuchs’ by using ointments, drops, or soft contact lenses. Doctors may also instruct the patient to use a hair dryer, holding it at arm’s length or directed at the face to dry out the epithelial blisters. This can actually be done two or three times a day, but please follow your doctor’s instructions carefully when using this method of treatment. Other treatments include:
If you would like to learn more about Fuchs’ Dystrophy or other eye conditions, please find an experienced eye doctor in your area today to set up an initial appointment.