Your eyes are one of the most important organs in your body, and you probably take a lot of measures to protect them. However, there are times when no matter what you do, you find that there is something wrong with your eyes and your vision. Fuch’s dystrophy is one such case.
Fuchs endothelial dystrophy is a common condition, affecting approximately 4 percent of people over the age of 40 in the United States
What is Fuch’s Dystrophy?
Fuch’s dystrophy is a disease of the cornea. It occurs when the cells in the endothelium die. The purpose of these cells is to pump the fluid away from the cornea of your eye and keep it clear. When the corneal layer of the endothelium dies, the fluid is not removed, causing the cornea to swell and inflate. Over time, this will affect your vision, causing it to become cloudy and blurred.
There are two stages of the disease. In stage one, or early stages, you may experience some vision problems. Usually, you will notice a slight blurring of vision when you wake up in the morning, but this will disappear during the course of the day. The clouding is caused by the accumulation of moisture in your eyes during sleep, and while you are awake the fluid dries out and your normal vision returns.
In stage 2 or later, you will find that your vision remains blurred throughout the day. As you sleep, the fluid accumulates and as your endothelium is no longer functioning properly, there is no way the fluid can dry out even when you wake up. Over time, the constant moisture can even cause your cornea to blister. These blisters can break open, causing pain and irritation.
Studies show that women are more susceptible to this disease than men.
Can you go blind from Fuch’s Dystrophy?
Not if you go to the doctor to test and get advice on how to treat this problem quickly.
What are the symptoms of Fuch’s Dystrophy?
There are different symptoms that you can experience in the two stages of this disease. In stage 1 you may notice the aforementioned slight cloudiness in the morning. You may also notice that you begin to have problems with vision in dimly lit conditions. In this first stage the symptoms develop slowly, which makes it difficult to detect the disease.
In stage 2, however, the symptoms begin to become more severe. You may notice increased sensitivity to light and a persistent feeling of pain and irritation. You may also notice that you are no longer able to drive at night. There may be swelling in one or both eyes and a constant “gritty” feeling.
What are the causes of Fuch’s Dystrophy?
One of the biggest problems with Fuch’s dystrophy is that no exact cause has been identified. There are many theories about what causes this particular disease, such as overexertion of the eyes or a genetic predisposition to the disease. There is also some evidence that bad habits such as smoking, irregular sleeping habits, or poor diet can make a person more susceptible.
Ophthalmologists agree that Fuch’s dystrophy is more common in older people. You may already have the disease in your 20s or 30s, but as the disease develops slowly over time, the symptoms typically do not appear until your 50s or 60s.
How is Fuch’s Dystrophy diagnosed and treated?
Fuch’s dystrophy can be difficult to diagnose, especially in stage 1, because it has similar symptoms to other eye diseases. In order for the disease to be diagnosed correctly, you must consult a licensed eye doctor.
Your doctor will examine your eyes with a special microscope called a slit lamp. This instrument allows your doctor to examine your endothelium to determine if there is any damage. He can also use it to see if your cornea has small bumps or blisters that are telltale signs of the disease.
Once your doctor has diagnosed that you have Fuch’s dystrophy, you can choose from several treatment options, as there is no cure for the disease yet. If the condition is not yet too severe, your doctor may prescribe medical ointments to relieve the swelling and saline drops to remove the excess moisture. On your doctor’s advice, you can even use a hair dryer to blow warm air gently onto your eyes to aid the drying process.
However, if the condition is already too severe, your doctor may suggest corneal transplantation. This can be either a partial transplant (endothelial keratoplasty) or a full transplant (penetrating keratoplasty).