A new means of treating Fuchs Endothelial Dystrophy (FED) has been developed that is both minimally invasive, and has fewer negative side effects when compared to the current standard treatment option.
FED is a condition in which too much fluid accumulates in the tissue surrounding the cornea, the transparent lens in the front of the eye. When this fluid builds up, vision can be negatively affected, causing blurring, glaring, and the appearance of halos around sources of light.
The current and most effect treatment option for this disorder is a full corneal transplant. As far as surgeries go, it’s not the most complicated procedure, but still requires a fair amount of cutting and removal of tissue, followed by a few weeks of recovery.
The new method, rather than replacing the entire cornea, removes only a single layer of cells, just a few square millimeters across, from the inside of the cornea. This triggered the rejuvenation of the surrounding tissue, allowing the eye to heal itself without the need for a tissue transplant. During testing, this procedure restored clear vision to 75% of patients suffering from FED.
When assessed six months after the operation, 77% of test patients had clear corneas and 62% had 20/20 vision or better. The other 23% of those treated did not respond to the new method, and were then treated with a standard cornea transplant.
Lead researcher on the study was Kathryn Colby, MD, PhD, the Louis Block professor and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the University of Chicago said “It’s too soon to call this a cure. We performed the first operation just over two years ago, but when it works, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s quick, inexpensive and it spares patients from having someone else’s cells in their eyes, which requires local immunosuppression.”