The cornea is the clear window at the front of the eye. This window must remain clear to allow for best vision. The inner lining of the cornea (the endothelium) helps to prevent the cornea from swelling. Fuchs corneal dystrophy is a genetic condition that causes loss and dysfunction of the corneal endothelium. As a result, the cornea becomes swollen and vision declines. Patients often notice that vision is worst upon waking in the morning and may take minutes or hours to clear.
When corneal swelling develops, treatment is recommended. In early stages, certain eye drops may help reduce swelling of the cornea. When more severe, the diseased inner lining may be replaced using a corneal transplant. If the remainder of the cornea is healthy, it is often possible to selectively replace the diseased endothelial cells while leaving the healthy portion of the cornea in place.