Fuchs' Dystrophy

An older woman standing outside on a sunny day

Fuchs’ corneal dystrophy occurs when the corneal inner lining (endothelium) does not keep water from moving from inside the eyeball into the cornea, which causes swelling of the cornea. This is an inherited condition which is found in women more than men. When the cornea swells, vision becomes blurry. The more the cornea swells, the more blurry vision becomes. This may also cause small blisters to form on the surface of the cornea. These blisters eventually burst, which causes extreme pain.

The number of endothelial cells diminish as a patient grows older, and they do not replenish themselves. As the number of these cells decrease, the pumping system pumps less water out of the cornea, which reduces vision. A large number of these cells does not necessarily mean the pumping system is more efficient – if the cells are healthy, a smaller number of cells can maintain the pumping function. Doctors rarely see symptoms of Fuch’s corneal dystrophy until the patient reaches their 50s or 60s.

This condition cannot be cured without a corneal transplant and the cause is unknown.