Fuchs Dystrophy: Is it as bad as it sounds?
What now, I ask myself
Last year I underwent eye cataract surgery. The results were amazing. I went from needing maximum strength vari-focal specs to just needing a mild prescription pair of glasses for reading and close work. Wonderful.
Almost a year on, since my first operation, I have noticed that my sight in the left eye is not as good as it was initially. A recent outpatient check up at the local eye clinic revealed the reason for this, Fuchs Dystrophy.
Like me you will probably saying what the hell is Fuchs Dystrophy?.
For those of you who are, read on and I shall try to enlighten you.
Fuchs Dystrophy is a progressive condition. If left unchecked it can cause blindness. Yet it is fairly common and these days treatable. It usually affects both eyes. This is true in my case, except the left eye is worse than the right. It is also more common in women than men and an inherited condition. Thanks family.
A more detailed explanation of the condition is here. I have tried to pick a website that explains Fuchs in simple terms. Basically the inner cell layer of the cornea known as the endothelium becomes distorted. This means it cannot do its job keeping the cornea clear by pumping excess water out..
Signs of this condition can be evident to ophthalmologists in patients aged 30 to 40. However in most cases it does not cause problems until a person reached their 50s or 60s.
This seems to have been the case for me.
My surgeon said that since my cataracts have been removed corneal changes will be more visible than before. This means that the changes were soon picked up after my surgery.
The prognosis if left unchecked is probably blindness but the disease is said to progress slowly. This means that depending on how old you are when diagnosed, one of a hundred and one other illnesses or conditions could have already scuppered you.
Since starting this hub a few months ago I have seen my surgeon again. This time it was different doctor who was less in favour of more surgery. I have to say that I think part of the reason was the massive cuts the NHS budget is facing.
However on the whole we agreed to wait and see.
Fuchs dystrophy may not affect my sight badly for many years. If it does then I will take any measures necessary to keep my eyesight. Sight is so precious to us.
Temporary treatments which can alleviate the symptoms include eye drops used four times a day. I used these for four months but have abandoned them for now. Therapeutic soft contact lenses have been shown to help some patients. In some cases the patient is advised to use a hairdryer, held at arms length, to waft across the eye. This helps dry out any epithelial blisters.
Treatments continue to improve and so by the time, if it comes, that I need surgical intervention the success rate should be much improved. Currently corneal transplant is one main permanent option. There is also penetrating keratoplasty or PKP.
Though both of these treatments have good success rates these days there are always risks with any surgery. In the case of a corneal transplant the patient needs to wait for "the material" to be available. The material being the cornea of a deceased donor.
In the Netherlands other types of keratoplasty have been developed and are having great success. All of this makes me feel it was prudent to wait. As with all such surgeries there are cons to waiting though. Sometimes it is as well to have surgery whilst you are a little younger and hopefully healthier.
When it comes to deciding we must all follow our hearts and not be pushed either way. With so much at stake it is right to feel that you are in charge.
© 2011 Ethel Smith