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Fuchs Dystrophy: Is it as bad as it sounds?

Updated on June 1, 2018
ethel smith profile image

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

Fuchs dystrophy is a hereditary abnormality of the inner cell layer of the cornea known as the endothelium. The purpose of this layer is to pump fluid out of the cornea, keeping it thin and crystal clear
Fuchs dystrophy is a hereditary abnormality of the inner cell layer of the cornea known as the endothelium. The purpose of this layer is to pump fluid out of the cornea, keeping it thin and crystal clear | Source

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.

Corneal Fuchs Dystrophy
Corneal Fuchs Dystrophy

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

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    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      4 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Ruby - it is the perils of getting older

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 

      4 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Good to know, hopefully your sight has continued to improve. Thanks for sharing this helpful information.

    • profile image

      dor23 

      5 years ago

      Husband had a detached retina (lost 99 pr cent of his eyesight in his righteye) and after a specalist examined him was told he has Fuch's dysophy in both eyes and worst in his good eye. Toldhecould be bind within 5 to 10 years This was 3 years ago and his eyes are getting foggy now. We do not know what the prognosic is

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      That is great news for your Dad. Yes it gets more expensive all the time but at least in the UK we have the NHS, for now anyway

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 

      7 years ago from Canada

      I do believe they are called our "golden" years because we now wish we had invested in a gold mine so we could pay for everything that is wearing down. Best to you, Ethel. We never know what will come next. My dad was diagnosed with macular degeneration (wet) and six months later had a complete, spontaneous remission - no trace of the condition remains. We live in hope :D

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks for the good wishes guys and thanks Jim for the support group. I will definitely check it out

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Ethel, thanks for all this important information and wishing you all the best and i hope and pray it all turns well for you .

      Take care and be well my friend !

    • profile image

      Jim 

      7 years ago

      I was diagnosed with this about 10 years ago. Have had cataract surgery for both eyes in the past three years. There is a yahoo group that deals with this particular disease you might find helpful.

      http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/fuchsfriends/

    • Ancillotti profile image

      Ancillotti 

      7 years ago from Brasil, Vitoria - ES

      Ethel, hope you get better soon and I'm glad to know that it is a treatable disease.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing the information on this disease, about which I had never heard of.

      Useful!

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Aye they may be "golden" but they have a different set of problems lol

    • albertacowpoke profile image

      albertacowpoke 

      7 years ago from Redwater, Alberta

      Good luck to you Ethel. Amazing how everything catches up to us in the so-called "Golden Years."

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      HP I guess in the great scheme of things it is not that bad. I shall have to wait and see how things develop

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 

      7 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Hi Ethel Smith, I too wish you well. It sounds dangerous to me.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thank you HH. I know you have been through the mill lately. Hey I am still alive and kicking that's the main :)

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      Ethel, I am really, truly sorry to read this. As you say and I agree with you, eyesight is the precious thing we have. I wish you well, as you know, and hopefully you will never lose your eye sight.

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