Fuchs' Dystrophy
Fuchs’ dystrophy is a disorder of the cornea, the transparent front part of the eye that covers the iris and the pupil. The disease causes the cornea to thicken and become hazy. This process occurs because the single layer of cells on the back part of the cornea is no longer able to function correctly. This layer of cells, called the endothelium, normally pumps fluid out of the cornea to the inside of the eye. If the cells are not functioning properly the cornea will swell, and eventually lose its transparency. In such cases the vision can decrease and painful blisters can develop.

Fuchs’ dystrophy most commonly develops slowly. The doctor may be able to see signs of the disease many years before you notice anything. Often the first signs are clouding of vision upon awakening, or just blurring of vision that can’t be corrected by new glasses. In mild or early cases hypertonic drops or ointment may be helpful. These help draw water out of the cornea. Drops such as Muro-128, Adsorbonac, or 5% sodium chloride can be used, typically 4 times daily. A similar ointment can be used at bedtime. These medications do not affect the health of the eye, so use them only if they improve your vision or make your eye more comfortable. A hair dryer, blowing across the eye, can speed the morning recovery of vision. Sometimes a bandage contact lens will be recommended, just to provide comfort.

If the vision is sufficiently reduced that it is impairing your ability to carry out your normal activities, corneal transplant surgery can be performed. The swollen cornea is replaced with a healthy cornea from a donor. In some cases, cataract surgery and lens implantation is performed at the same time.

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Copyright © 2009 Robert C. Arffa, M.D., 1370 Washington Pike, Bridgeville, PA 15017