Fuchs’ dystrophy (pronounced “fewks”) is a disease of the cornea, the area in the front-center of your eye which receives and focuses light. This condition is semi-rare, and very often inherited genetically.

This article will cover the basics of Fuchs’ dystrophy, and what to do if you believe you have it.

What Is Fuchs’ Dystrophy?

Fuchs’ dystrophy attacks the endothelium, which is an inner layer of cells within the cornea. The primary role of the endothelium is to remove extra fluid from the cornea, draining away old fluid so that new fluid can move in.

As endothelium cells die off from Fuchs’ dystrophy, this causes fluid to build up within the cornea. It begins to expand and fill up with old fluid, leading to vision problems.

Symptoms of Fuchs’ Dystrophy

The most common symptoms are:

  • Blurry or cloudy vision, a kind of general haziness
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Increased glare
  • Halos around lights, especially at night
  • A feeling of grittiness or even pain, caused by micro-blisters forming on the surface of the cornea.

Most of these symptoms are associated with several eye disorders. The main distinguishing feature of Fuchs’ dystrophy is that it is typically worst in the morning, and clears up over the course of the day. However, as the disease progresses, it will eventually cause all-day vision problems.

In addition, high humidity will make the symptoms of Fuchs’ dystrophy worse, unlike most other conditions.

Fuchs’ dystrophy typically does not appear until a person is older, in their 40s or 50s. Early-onset cases are rare, but can happen.

The condition is believed to be transmitted genetically. If other people in your family have Fuchs’ dystrophy, your own risk will be substantially elevated.

Treatment For Fuchs’ Dystrophy

Strictly speaking, there is no cure for Fuchs’ dystrophy. In less-severe cases, you may be prescribed anti-inflammatory eyedrops to help reduce swelling of the cornea.

You may also be directed to self-treat with a hairdryer. Holding the dryer at arm’s length, at low power, allows you to directly dry out your own eyes and reduce symptoms.

In severe cases, with substantial corneal scarring and vision loss, surgery could be recommended. This could involve injecting new healthy endothelium cells into the cornea. For the worst cases, a full corneal transplant/replacement may be called for.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Fuchs’ dystrophy, it’s important to have it checked out. Please contact Valley Eyecare Clinic in Phoenix for an appointment.