Fuchs' dystrophy (fooks DIS-truh-fee) is an uncommon, slowly progressive disorder that affects the cornea — the transparent front surface of your eye. Fuchs' dystrophy is a type of corneal dystrophy, a group of conditions that may cause a hazy deposit to build up over the cornea.
Normally, the cells that line the back surface (endothelium) of the cornea prevent excess fluid from accumulating. This helps the cornea maintain its transparency. But with Fuchs' dystrophy, those endothelial cells slowly deteriorate, lose function and die. As a result, fluid builds up in the cornea. This may cause swelling, cloudy vision, pain and loss of corneal transparency.
Although the cause of Fuchs' dystrophy is unknown, it may be inherited. Treatments, including surgery, are available for Fuchs' dystrophy.
Doctors may see early signs of Fuchs' dystrophy in people who are in their 30s and 40s. But most people don't experience symptoms or problems until they're in their 50s and 60s. Signs and symptoms usually affect both eyes and may include:
When to see a doctor
In some people with Fuchs' dystrophy, the cause is unknown. However, for many people it's inherited as an autosomal dominant familial condition, meaning that about half of an affected person's children also will have the disease. The extent to which relatives experience signs and symptoms may vary. For instance, a parent with a mild case and few symptoms could have a child with a severe case and numerous vision problems.
Some people are more likely to develop Fuchs' dystrophy. They include:
Preparing for your appointment
If you suspect that you have Fuchs' dystrophy, make an appointment to see an eye doctor (ophthalmologist or optometrist). In some cases, you may be referred to an ophthalmologist who specializes in corneal disease.
Because appointments can be brief and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so preparing questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For Fuchs' dystrophy, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment whenever you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
You may go through testing so that your doctor can determine whether you have Fuchs' dystrophy. Testing may include:
Treatments and drugs
Your doctor may suggest the following methods and procedures to improve your comfort or stop your signs and symptoms of Fuchs' dystrophy from worsening.
Lifestyle and home remedies
In addition to following your doctor's instructions for care, these techniques may help make your eyes feel better.
Last Updated: 2011-07-16
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