Fuchs dystrophy

What is it?

The cornea is the clear front surface of the eye. Fuchs dystrophy is one type of corneal dystrophy (a group of inherited disorders that affect the cornea).

In the UK, Fuchs dystrophy often leads to corneal transplant surgery and is a fairly common cause of blindness worldwide.

  • Causes

    The cornea has 5 different layers. Fuchs dystrophy affects the inner layer (called the endothelium). In a healthy eye the endothelium prevents fluid from entering into the cornea from the middle layer of the eye. But in Fuchs dystrophy, the cornea takes in fluid and swells. This makes the cornea become less clear, which affects vision.

    Fuchs dystrophy can be caused by an inherited genetic fault but may also happen in people with no family history of the condition.

  • Symptoms

    Fuchs corneal dystrophy usually begins after the age of 40. Both eyes are simultaneously affected in almost all patients. Sight loss happens gradually and tends to be worse first thing in the morning. Later symptoms can include pain and eventually serious sight loss.

  • Treatments

    Fuchs corneal dystrophy may need transplant surgery to remove the damaged cornea and replace it with a healthy one from a donor.

  • Research

    Research on Fuchs dystrophy aims to learn more about how and why the cornea’s inner layer stops working and the links to genetic and environmental factors. Ultimately it may one day be possible to develop a gene therapy to replace the faulty genes.

    Read our research projects
  • Clinical trials

    You could play an important part in eye research by being a participant in clinical research study that may benefit many people. You could even help shape clinical research by becoming more actively involved and having a say. Patients, carer, or anyone with an interest can help.

    What are clinical trials

    Clinical trials are research studies that find out if a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. They are a key research tool for improving medical knowledge and patient care. The people who carry out research are mostly the same doctors and healthcare professionals who treat people. Their aim is to find better ways of treating patients and keeping people healthy.

    Taking part

    Here are some ways to find out about research projects and clinical trials that you can get involved in.

    UK Clinical Trials Gateway

    The UK Clinical Trials Gateway run by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) provides easy to understand information about clinical research trials running in the UK, and gives to a large range of information about these trials. It is designed to enable patients and clinicians to locate and contact trials of interest. Visit their website and select the eye condition that you are interested in.

    NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio

    The NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio is a database of high-quality clinical research studies in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Within this the Ophthalmology Specialty Group supports a national portfolio of research studies in ophthalmology and the vision sciences. See their website for details.

    If you wish to join a trial it is always best to discuss this with your doctor or clinical team first.

Last updated August 2015
Approved by Mr Frank Larkin, Moorfields Eye Hospital

Latest news

A Year in Vision
Read full story
Guest Blog: Dr Darren Ting reveals his aim to create and develop novel antimicrobial peptides for tr…
Read full story
Neil Fachie - My love of cycling
Read full story
Researchers may be able to predict glaucoma risk
Read full story