Symptoms and causes

Symptoms

As the disease progresses, Fuchs' dystrophy symptoms, which usually affect both eyes, might include:

  • Glare, which can decrease your vision in dim and bright light.
  • Blurred vision, which occurs in the morning after awakening and gradually improves during the day. As the disease progresses, blurred vision either can take longer to improve or doesn't improve.
  • Pain or grittiness from tiny blisters on the surface of your cornea.

Other symptoms can include distorted vision, sensitivity to light, difficulty seeing at night and seeing halos around lights.

When to see a doctor

If you have some of these symptoms, and especially if they worsen over time, see an eye care provider, who might then refer you to a corneal specialist. If symptoms develop suddenly, call for an urgent appointment. Other eye conditions that cause the same symptoms as Fuchs' dystrophy also require prompt treatment.

Causes

Normally, the cells lining the inside of the cornea (endothelial cells) help maintain a healthy balance of fluids within the cornea and prevent the cornea from swelling. But with Fuchs' dystrophy, the endothelial cells gradually die, resulting in fluid buildup (edema) within the cornea. This causes corneal thickening and blurred vision.

Fuchs' dystrophy can be inherited. The genetic basis of the disease is complex — family members can be affected to varying degrees or not at all.

Risk factors

Factors that increase your risk of developing Fuchs' dystrophy include:

  • Sex. Fuchs' dystrophy is slightly more common in women than in men.
  • Genetics. Having a family history of Fuchs' dystrophy increases your risk.
  • Age. Although there's a rare early-onset type of Fuch's dystrophy that begins in childhood, typically the disease starts in the 20s and 30s, with symptoms developing in the 50s and 60s.

Smoking and having diabetes might also put you at higher risk of the disease.