Your Eyes and Cornea Conditions
What Conditions Can Damage the Cornea? continued...
Map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy usually affects adults between the ages of 40 and 70, or children as a result of heredity. It is usually painless and causes no vision loss, and sometimes clears up without treatment. In some cases, however, epithelial erosion may occur. Epithelial erosion can expose the nerves lining the cornea, causing severe pain, particularly when awakening in the morning. The cornea's normal curvature may be altered causing astigmatism and nearsightedness/farsightedness.
As the cornea is altered, vision may be blurry and accompanied by:
- Moderate to severe pain
- Increase sensitivity to light
- Excessive tearing
- A feeling that something is in your eye
Treatment may include an eye patch, eye drops, ointments, or surgery.
Fuchs' dystrophy is the gradual deterioration of endothelial cells for no apparent reason. As these cells thin over time, the cornea is less capable of removing water from the stroma, causing it to swell and distort vision. Haze and small blisters on the corneal surface may also appear.
As a slowly progressing disease, signs of Fuchs' dystrophy begin to appear in people 30 to 40 years of age, but it doesn't normally affect vision until about 20 years later. It is more common in women than men.
An early sign of Fuchs' dystrophy includes awakening with blurred vision that gradually clears up during the day. As the disease worsens, swelling becomes more consistent and vision blurs.
Treatment of Fuchs' dystrophy includes:
- Eye drops
- Drying of blisters with a hair dryer two or three times per day
- Corneal transplant (full or partial)
Lattice dystrophy is characterized by the presence of abnormal protein fibers throughout the stroma. Although this condition can occur at any age, early changes can be seen in childhood.
Lattice dystrophy gets its name from the clear overlapping lines of proteins in the stroma. This can make the cornea cloudy and reduce vision. In some people these proteins may cause epithelial erosion.
Treatment of lattice dystrophy includes:
- Prescription eye drops
- An eye patch
- Corneal transplant
Symptoms may disappear with treatment, but a corneal transplant may be required. Although results of this surgery are very good, lattice dystrophy may reappear in transplant patients.
How Is Corneal Disease Diagnosed?
Corneal disease can only be diagnosed after a thorough exam by an ophthalmologist.
Can Corneal Disease Be Prevented?
Infectious corneal disease caused from bacteria and viruses can be prevented by protecting the eye from injury and limiting physical contact with people who have contagious forms of conjunctivitis. Avoid sharing eye makeup, contact solution, lens cases, and eye drops with people who are infected and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds after contact with an infected person. Also, following strict guidelines for contact lens hygiene can help decrease the risk of corneal infections related to contact lens use.
Although corneal disease resulting from hereditary factors, like dystrophies, cannot be prevented, vision can be preserved by early detection and treatment.