Inherited genetic mutations can lead to cloudiness and/or swelling of the cornea. Fuchs' dystrophy is the most common dystrophy and generally is first visible in the cornea in the 40s or 50s, although symptoms of vision loss do not generally occur until the late 50s, 60s or later. Fuchs' dystrophy can be treated with a partial thickness cornea transplant to replace just the back layers of the cornea which are diseased. This generally takes 30-45 minutes and is done without sutures. The patient does need to lie flat for several hours to help the new transplant “take” after surgery and should minimize physical activity for 2-3 days. Patients will need to take drops after surgery for at least one year to prevent rejection. Vision is usually restored within a few weeks after surgery.

In the future, gene therapy or cell replacement therapy might become available. Drops to reduce corneal swelling can slow down or reduce corneal swelling. Fuchs' dystrophy does run in families, so children of patients with it should get checked in the 40s or 50s.

Other corneal dystrophies include lattice, granular, macular, and congenital endothelial dystrophies. These generally start in childhood or teenage years and may require partial or full-thickness corneal transplantation. Gene therapy or cell replacement therapy may become available in the future.


Please contact Dr. Ambati in Eugene to learn more about the cornea and other eye care-related topics.