Corneal Dystrophy


The symptoms of corneal dystrophy depend upon the type of corneal dystrophy. There are some people who experience virtually no symptoms. Some patients experience the build-up of material in the cornea which causes it to become opaque. This can lead blurred vision or vision loss.

Some patients also experience corneal erosion. This happens when the outermost layer of the cornea, the epithelium, fails to attach to the next layer, the Bowman membrane. Corneal erosion can cause mild to severe pain in the eye, light sensitivity and many patients have the sensation that there is something in their eye.

Risk Factors

Most corneal dystrophies are genetic disorders, which means that a family history of the disease increases the risk for developing them.

People of any age can get Corneal dystrophy. Both men and women are equally affected by most corneal dystrophies; the exception would be for Fuchs’ dystrophy, which affects more women more than men.

Fuch’s Dystrophy

A disease of the cornea, Fuchs’ dystrophy is when cells in the corneal layer called the endothelium die off. Normally these cells pump fluid from the cornea to keep it clear, but when they die, fluid builds up causing the cornea to get swollen and puffy. The result is that vision becomes cloudy or hazy.

There are two stages to Fuchs’ dystrophy. During the early stage (stage 1), many people notice few, if any, problems. The vision is can be hazy in the morning but usually gets better throughout the day. This is because the eyes normally stay moist when they are closed during sleep, and when a person is awake, the fluid dries normally.

In stage 2 of Fuch’s dystrophy the vision remains blurry all day. So much fluid builds up during sleep that not enough of it can dry up during the day. In this stage tiny blisters may form in the cornea that get bigger and eventually break open, causing eye pain.

Many people in their 30s and 40s may have Fuchs’ dystrophy and not know it. The actual vision problems might not appear until age 50 or later. Women are more likely than men to have Fuchs’ dystrophy.