Besides testing your vision, your doctor might also have you undergo the following tests to determine whether you have Fuchs' dystrophy:
- Staging. Your doctor will try to determine the stage of your condition by examining your eye with an optical microscope (slit lamp). He or she will then study the cells lining the back of your cornea (endothelial cells). Irregular bumps (guttae) on the back of the cornea might indicate Fuchs' dystrophy.
- Corneal pressure test. After numbing your eyes with drops, your doctor will briefly touch your eyes with a special instrument that measures eye pressure. This test can help distinguish between a disease that increases pressure in your eye (glaucoma) and Fuch's dystrophy.
- Corneal thickness. Your doctor might use a special instrument to measure the thickness of the cornea.
- Corneal cell count. Sometimes your doctor might use another special instrument to record the number, shape and size of the cells that line the back of the cornea.
Some nonsurgical treatments and self-care strategies might help relieve the symptoms of Fuchs' dystrophy. If you have severe disease, your doctor might suggest surgery.
Medications and other therapies
- Eye medication. Eyedrops or ointments can help reduce the amount of fluid in your cornea.
- Soft contact lenses. These act as a covering to relieve pain.
People who have surgery for advanced Fuchs' dystrophy can have much better vision and remain symptom-free for years afterward. Surgical options include:
- Replacing the inner layer of the cornea. This replaces the back layer of the cornea with healthy tissue from a donor. The procedure is usually done with local anesthesia in an outpatient setting.
- Transplanting the cornea. This surgical procedure, known as penetrating keratoplasty, replaces the full-thickness cornea with a healthy one from a donor. Although not used much anymore for Fuchs' dystrophy, it might be the best choice in some cases.
Possible future treatments
New ways of treating Fuchs' dystrophy are being tested. Ask your doctor if you're eligible for clinical trials.
Lifestyle and home remedies
In addition to following your doctor's instructions for care, you can try these techniques to help reduce glare or soothe your eyes.
- Apply over-the-counter (nonprescription) salt solution (5 percent sodium chloride) eyedrops or ointment.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses with ultraviolet protection.
- Dry your eyes with a hair dryer. Hold it at arm's length and direct warm — not hot — air across your face two or three times a day. This helps remove excess fluid in the cornea, which decreases swelling.
Preparing for your appointment
If you suspect you have Fuchs' dystrophy, make an appointment to see an eye care provider (optometrist or ophthalmologist). In some cases, you might be referred to an ophthalmologist who specializes in corneal disease.
Here's information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
Make a list of:
- Your symptoms, and when they began
- Key personal information, including family history of eye conditions
- All medications, vitamins or other supplements you take and doses
- Questions to ask your doctor
Take a family member or a friend along, if possible. You might not want to drive yourself home if your pupils have been dilated for the exam, and your companion can help you remember information you get during your appointment.
For Fuchs' dystrophy, questions to ask your doctor include:
- What else could cause my symptoms?
- What tests do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or ongoing?
- What treatments are available, and what do you recommend?
- How rapidly will my condition progress?
- How will my vision be affected?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I manage them together?
- Do I need to restrict my activities?
- Are there brochures or other printed material I can have? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask other questions.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, such as:
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Do your symptoms change throughout the day?
- Have you noticed changes in your vision?
- Does your vision seem worse in the morning and improve during the day?