Fuchs’ dystrophy

Fuchs’ dystrophy is a progressive disease affecting the part of the eye called the cornea. 

The cornea is like the crystal covering a clock face. It is a clear, round dome covering the iris, the colored ring in the center of the eye, and the pupil, the black circle in the middle of the iris. By helping to focus light as it enters the eye, the cornea plays an important role in vision.

Fuchs’ dystrophy reduces the number of specific cells (called endothelial cells) that make up the inner layer of the cornea. This reduction of cells causes the cornea to become unusually thick or puffy. Also seen in Fuchs’ dystrophy are dewdrop-shaped outgrowths called guttata in the layer just underneath the endothelial cell layer called Descemet’s membrane.

These cell changes may cause the cornea to become swollen and cloudy, losing its crystal-clear transparency. Because Fuchs’ dystrophy is a progressive disease, over time, changes to the corneal cells may interfere with vision.

Fuchs’ dystrophy usually occurs after age 40. Studies show that it is an inherited condition.

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