The cornea is the outer layer of your eye and it should be transparent to allow the focus of incoming light. Corneal dystrophy is a hereditary condition with loss of transparency when abnormal material grows or accumulates within one or more layers of the cornea of both eyes. There are multiple types of corneal dystrophy, classified by which layer of the cornea the disease affects and the specific pattern of growth.
Some corneal dystrophies can create vision impairment while others may have no symptoms at all. Corneal erosion is a common symptom causing discomfort, up to extreme pain, as the epithelium layer of the cornea separates from the eye. About 2% of the general population has the genetic risk but fortunately, painful erosions are uncommon.
Corneal dystrophies can be found during routine eye exams, and others can be diagnosed only with molecular genetic tests, often before symptoms begin to surface. Treatments will vary depending on the specific type of corneal dystrophy, ranging from observation to eye drops, ointments, antibiotics, special contact lenses, or even excimer laser treatment and rarely, corneal transplant. Other treatment is symptomatic and supportive.
Genetic counseling may be of benefit for affected individuals and their families. If you have corneal dystrophy in your genetics, regular exams are the best preventative treatment. If you think you might be experiencing corneal dystrophy, please call us to make an appointment.