Fuchs Endothelial Dystrophy

What is Fuchs Endothelial Dystrophy?

Fuchs Endothelial dystrophy is a genetic eye condition that results when the back surface of the cornea (known as the endothelium) breaks down, allowing more fluid than normal into the cornea and causing it to swell. As the swelling progresses, the cornea becomes hazy and thus vision becomes blurred/cloudy. This may be worse in the morning upon waking. In more severe cases the swelling can cause blister-like lesions on the front surface of the cornea, causing pain when they rupture (usually in the morning), and possible infection.

Treatment for Fuchs Endothelial Dystrophy

Treatment may include eye drops or ointment that dehydrate the cornea, reducing swelling and improving symptoms.

In cases where vision becomes too cloudy, or the corneal integrity is too compromised, surgical intervention is required to cure the condition. These cases will require a corneal transplant to replace the corneal endothelium. Fortunately, there have been significant advances in the approach to corneal transplant surgery.

Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK)

As only the back layer of the cornea is diseased, or compromised, the surgical technique called Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK) is the best approach for Fuchs Endothelial Dystrophy. This is considered a Partial Thickness Lamellar Corneal Transplant, in which only the back layer of the cornea is replaced, leaving the healthy front layers intact. This is a less invasive approach, which results in faster healing times, better vision outcomes, and lower rejection rates than any other surgical approach.

For more information, please read the Corneal Transplants Information Page.