Fuchs’ dystrophy, also known as (Endothelial dystrophy) is a rare eye disease that affects only 1% of the population. The proper pronunciation of Fuchs’ is (fooks). If you’ve never heard of it, you are probably not alone. It is a very rare and mostly inherited eye disease where the cells in the inner layer of the cornea begin to die off causing many vision problems and eventually total loss of vision. This article discusses risk factors, symptoms and treatment for Fuchs’ dystrophy.
What are the risk factors for developing Fuchs’ dystrophy?
Fuchs’ dystrophy is believed to be prominently inherited from one or both parents, therefore it is known as an autosomal dominate disease, meaning at least one parent was carrying the defective gene transferred to the child increasing their risk to a 50% chance of developing Fuchs’ dystrophy to the point of diagnosis. Someone who develops the eye disease may have had parents who were never diagnosed due to the unavailability of certain eye tests and equipment used today to detect the disease.
Women are more likely to develop Fuchs’ dystrophy than men according to research. The reason for this is not yet known.
People 50 and older are also at a higher risk for developing Fuchs’ dystrophy.
What symptoms should you look for?
The dominant symptoms of Fuchs’ include experiencing sharp eye pain, high sensitivity to light, problems with glare, seeing colored halos around lights, foggy or blurred vision (more in the morning), a cloudy cornea, and difficulty seeing at night. Some may develop tiny painful blisters on the cornea caused by the buildup of fluid, due to the cells in the inner layer dying off. These symptoms are usually found in both eyes.
These symptoms generally do not appear until after the age of 50, but an ophthalmologist or optometrist can detect early signs of deterioration in the inner layer of the cornea with a specular microscope exam as early as age 30-40.
Consult your eye doctor if you experience any of these symptoms that get worse over time. Call your eye doctor for an immediate appointment if you develop several of these symptoms suddenly.
What treatments are available for Fuchs’ dystrophy?
Currently the only cure for severe Fuchs’ dystrophy is a corneal transplant. In fact, Fuchs’ is the number one reason for corneal transplants in the U.S. today. Without a corneal transplant, patients with severe Fuchs’ may lose their vision or have severe pain and very limited vision.
Optionally, some patients may be treated with a (DLK) or deep lamellar keratoplasty. DLK is a less invasive procedure that replaces only the deep corneal tissues in lieu of a full corneal transplant. There is usually less chance of rejection with DLK and the recovery period is quicker. However, there may be a wait for donor tissue needed for the procedure.
If a patient’s Fuchs’ dystrophy isn’t at the advanced stage, temporary relief may be possible by using prescription muro eye drops.
Doctors may also suggest wearing soft contacts lenses for better vision and to lessen discomfort.
For more information on Fuchs’ dystrophy, the sources listed below will provide more detailed information on this very rare eye disorder.
Note: The information provided in this article is for information purposes only. It is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Consult a reputable eye doctor if you experience the symptoms of Fuchs’ dystrophy for a thorough eye examination.
Fuchs’ dystrophy – MayoClinic.com
Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy; fuchsdystrophy.org