Fuchs' dystrophy causes the clear layer (cornea) on the front of your eye to swell. The disorder can lead to glare, cloudy vision and eye discomfort.
Fuchs' dystrophy usually affects both eyes and can cause your vision to gradually worsen over years. But most people with Fuchs' dystrophy don't develop symptoms until they reach their 50s or 60s.
Some medications and self-care steps may help relieve your Fuchs' dystrophy signs and symptoms. But when the disorder is advanced and you've lost vision, the only way to restore vision is with cornea transplant surgery.
With Fuchs' dystrophy, the body of the cornea (stroma) begins to thicken, and the cornea becomes cloudy.
As the disease progresses, Fuchs' dystrophy symptoms, which usually affect both eyes, might include:
Other symptoms can include distorted vision, sensitivity to light, difficulty seeing at night and seeing halos around lights.
If you have some of these symptoms, and especially if they worsen over time, see an eye care provider, who might then refer you to a corneal specialist. If symptoms develop suddenly, call for an urgent appointment. Other eye conditions that cause the same symptoms as Fuchs' dystrophy also require prompt treatment.
Normally, the cells lining the inside of the cornea (endothelial cells) help maintain a healthy balance of fluids within the cornea and prevent the cornea from swelling. But with Fuchs' dystrophy, the endothelial cells gradually die, resulting in fluid buildup (edema) within the cornea. This causes corneal thickening and blurred vision.
Fuchs' dystrophy can be inherited. The genetic basis of the disease is complex — family members can be affected to varying degrees or not at all.
Factors that increase your risk of developing Fuchs' dystrophy include:
Smoking and having diabetes might also put you at higher risk of the disease.
Besides testing your vision, your doctor might also have you undergo the following tests to determine whether you have Fuchs' dystrophy:
Some nonsurgical treatments and self-care strategies might help relieve the symptoms of Fuchs' dystrophy. If you have severe disease, your doctor might suggest surgery.
People who have surgery for advanced Fuchs' dystrophy can have much better vision and remain symptom-free for years afterward. Surgical options include:
New ways of treating Fuchs' dystrophy are being tested. Ask your doctor if you're eligible for clinical trials.
In addition to following your doctor's instructions for care, you can try these techniques to help reduce glare or soothe your eyes.
If you suspect you have Fuchs' dystrophy, make an appointment to see an eye care provider (optometrist or ophthalmologist). In some cases, you might be referred to an ophthalmologist who specializes in corneal disease.
Here's information to help you get ready for your appointment.
Make a list of:
Take a family member or a friend along, if possible. You might not want to drive yourself home if your pupils have been dilated for the exam, and your companion can help you remember information you get during your appointment.
For Fuchs' dystrophy, questions to ask your doctor include:
Don't hesitate to ask other questions.
Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, such as: