Because Fuchs' dystrophy is related to a build-up in fluid in corneal tissue, symptoms can be worse on humid or rainy days and better on dry days or in dryer climates, such as an airplane or desert.
Generally, symptoms may include:
- Hazy or cloudy vision;
- Glare around certain objects (especially light sources);
- Halos around certain objects;
- Reduced visual acuity;
- Reduced ability to discern contrasts;
- Difficult driving at night;
- Fluctuations in vision, especially in the early morning. As the condition advances, however, these fluctuations become more persistent throughout the day;
- Pain in the eye, if the condition is more advanced and blisters have formed.
Two stages of Fuchs' dystrophy
Fuchs' dystrophy usually develops over two stages.
Stage 1 may produce no symptoms or only mild symptoms. In this early stage, the swelling of the corneal cells usually occurs in the morning then tends to clear as the day progresses. Vision is worse in the morning because closing your eyes during sleep keeps moisture from evaporating out of the cornea.
Once the disease has progressed to Stage 2, vision no longer gets better later in the day. People with Stage 2 Fuchs' dystrophy may have pain and be sensitive to light. Extreme climate conditions, such as high humidity, can worsen the condition.
Over time, some people with Stage 2 Fuchs' dystrophy develop scarring at the center of their cornea. Once scarring is present, the patient may become more comfortable, but the film of scar tissue over the cornea reduces vision.
It can take 10 to 20 years or longer for Fuchs' dystrophy to progress from its early to late stage. If the end stage of Fuchs' dystrophy results in significant vision loss, your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) can perform corneal transplant surgery. Fortunately, in the majority of patients, Fuchs' dystrophy does not progress so far that corneal transplant surgery is needed.
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