The cornea is the clear window of the eye allowing light to focus on the retina. On the back of the cornea there are specialized cells called endothelial cells that keep the cornea clear. If these cells are not healthy, the cornea becomes cloudy and your vision becomes impaired. FUCHS’ dystrophy is a very common degenerative disease of the cornea. It typically affects both eyes and is often hereditary. Patients with FUCHS’ dystrophy have decreased endothelial cell levels which can lead to corneal swelling, and eventual corneal clouding and loss of vision. In the past this required a full thickness corneal transplant and often the uncorrected vision would be very poor. Today eye surgeons can replace only the unhealthy endothelial cells with a new procedure called DSAEK (Descemet Stripping Automated Endothelial Keratoplasty), which retains the healthy part of your cornea. No stitches are needed to replace your unhealthy cells and typically the vision improves significantly within a few weeks compared to many months or up to a year, which is typical of a full thickness corneal transplant.
Patients with FUCHS’ dystrophy also may have problems during cataract surgery as the cornea swells and takes longer to recover. Fortunately eye surgeons use the latest surgical techniques including laser cataract surgery, which uses less energy to remove your cataract.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with FUCHS’ Dystrophy please call for a corneal consultation.
Keratoconus is a non-inflammatory degenerative disease where the corneal curvature becomes warped and the cornea thins. This leads to poor uncorrected vision. Treatment often begins with glasses followed by hard contact lenses. Often keratoconus continues to worsen over time leading to the need for corneal transplantation. In the past a full thickness cornea transplant would be performed to replace the degenerated cornea in advanced cases. Today eye surgeons can perform the most modern type of corneal transplantation called DALK (Deep Anterior Lamellar Keratoplasty). DALK leaves the healthy layers of the cornea intact leading to faster healing and no need for immune suppression such as a topical steroid drop. If you have been diagnosed with keratoconus or have any questions, please call for a consultation.
This schematic drawing shows how the cornea thins and protrudes in keratoconus.