Fuchs’ dystrophy (pronounced fooks) is a disease of the cornea that affects the endothelium layer, which is the inner most layer of the cornea. The endothelium layer consists of a group of cells that help keep the fluid level within the cornea consistent by pumping out excess fluid. When the cells undergo degenerative changes, they can diminish and fluid can start to build up. This condition causes the cornea to swell, become cloudy and cause a loss of clear vision.
Fuchs’ dystrophy usually affects both eyes and can cause a loss of visual clarity due the swelling of the cornea (corneal edema) and clouding. As the disease progresses, bullous keratopathy can occur, which causes blisters called “epithelial bullae” to form.
Although patients may be able to relieve some of their symptoms with eye drops, as the disease progresses, many patients must undergo a partial cornea transplant called DSAEK, which can restore clear vision.