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 notice that there is something going wrong with your eyes and your vision. Fuch’s dystrophy is one of those instances.
Fuchs endothelial dystrophy is a common condition, affecting approximately 4 percent of people over the age of 40 in the United States
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What is Fuch’s Dystrophy?
Fuch’s dystrophy is a corneal disease. It occurs when the cells in the endothelium die off. The purpose of these cells is to pump the fluid away from the cornea of your eye, keeping it clear. When the corneal layer of the endothelium die, the fluid is not removed which causes the cornea to become puffy and swollen. Over time, this affects your vision and causes it to become hazy and cloudy.
There are two stages of the disease. During stage 1, or the early stage, you might notice a few problems in your vision. You will generally notice a slight haziness in your vision when you wake up in the morning, but the haziness will clear up over the course of your day. The haziness is caused by the buildup of moisture in your eyes while you sleep, and while you are awake, the fluid dries out and your normal vision returns.
During stage 2, or the late stage, you will notice that your vision remains blurry all day. As you sleep, the fluid builds up and since your endothelium is no longer working properly, there is no way for the fluid to dry even when you wake up. Over time, the constant moisture can even cause blisters to form in your cornea. These blisters can break, which can cause pain and irritation.
According to studies, women are more prone to this condition compared to men.
Can you go blind from Fuchs Dystrophy?
Not if we see the doctor to test and get advice on how to treat this issue quicker.
What are the Symptoms of Fuch’s Dystrophy?
There are different symptoms that you can experience with this disease during the two stages. In stage 1, you might notice the aforementioned slight haziness in the mornings. You might also notice that you are starting to have trouble seeing in dimly-lit conditions. During this first stage, the symptoms develop slowly, which makes the disease difficult to catch.
During stage 2, however, the symptoms begin to become more severe. You might notice an increased sensitivity to light, and a continuous feeling of pain and irritation. You may also notice that you are no longer able to drive at night. There will be swelling in one or both eyes, and there will also be a constant “gritty” feeling as well.
What are the Causes of Fuch’s Dystrophy?
One of the biggest problems with Fuch’s dystrophy is that no precise cause has been identified. There are many theories as to what causes this particular disease, such as overexertion of the eyes or a genetic predisposition to the condition. There is also some evidence that poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, irregular sleeping patterns, or having a poor diet can lead a person to be more susceptible.
Eye care specialists agree that Fuch’s dystrophy is more common with older individuals. You can already have the disease during your 20’s or 30’s, but since the disease develops slowly over time, the symptoms will typically start to appear during your 50’s or 60’s.
How is Fuch’s Dystrophy Diagnosed and Treated?
Fuch’s dystrophy can be difficult to diagnose, especially during stage 1, due to its similar symptoms to other eye diseases. In order to get the disease properly diagnosed, you need to go to a licensed eye care specialist.
Your doctor will examine your eyes using a special microscope called a slit lamp. This instrument will allow your doctor to examine your endothelium to determine if there is any damage. It also allows them to see if your cornea has small bumps or blisters, which are telltale signs of the disease.
Once your doctor has determined that you do have Fuch’s dystrophy, you can choose from several treatment options as there is no available cure for the disease yet. If the condition is not yet too severe, your doctor can prescribe medical ointments to ease the swelling and saline drops to remove the excess moisture. At the advice of your doctor, you can even use a hair dryer to gently blow warm air on your eyes to help with the drying process.
However, if the disease is already too severe, your doctor might suggest corneal transplants. It can be either a partial transplant (endothelial keratoplasty) or a full transplant (penetrating keratoplasty).