My experience in Fuchs dystrophy
I always prided myself on having perfect 20-20 vision. My first indication that I may have a problem was when I was having a physical to join the Marine Corps when I was 19. The examining Doctor asked me if my eyes have always been like that and I replied yes not bothering to ask why he wanted to know. The second time was when I was in my forties and went for a regular eye exam. I got a phone call from my eye doctor three or four days after my appointment and over the phone he told me I will someday be unable to see it shocked me so much I couldn’t think of anything to say.
My vision continued to be fine but in my later 40’s I required bi focal glasses to read. I started going to different eye doctors to obtain different opinions. My eyes continued to require stronger lenses over the years. Then in 2012 I went to a well known ophthalmologist he said I had Fuchs dystrophy and that I also needed cataract surgery he said he could do the cataract surgery which would help my sight some but it also would likely cause the Fuchs to worsen. If I did nothing my sight would continue to proceed to a point that I could no longer read or drive and my only recourse would be a cornea transplant. The good news was that one of the world’s finest cornea surgeons lived just up the road in Portland a doctor Terry. He said he could arrange an appointment for me if I liked. I asked him if he thought I could possibly have cornea replacement and cataract surgery at the same time. He told me that might be a possibility I said go ahead and arrange it please.
My appointment with Dr. Terry after a extended eye exam he told me I was a prime candidate for the surgery and they could do the cataract at the same time. The arrangements were set and my first surgery was on my right eye the one determined to be the worse.
The old technique was the removal of the entire cornea and replacing it with a donor cornea and stitching it in to place. The procedure of Dr. Terry was to strip an inside layer off and replace it with a layer stripped from a donor cornea. This procedure did not require stitches so healing would be much faster. I had the right eye done 4/23/2013 and left done 6/11/23 the worst part was the requirement to lay flat on your back and look at ceiling for 24 hours so draft would adhere and also the anti rejection drops and the antibiotic drops.
My right eye surgery was amazing successful and also but left eye was much slower with some double vision that did eventually go away.
I volunteered to be part of a study to determine if donor corneas could be preserved for use up to 14 days. One eye was done with a cornea of 7 days the other of 14 days even Dr. Terry knows which one was used. The study was for 3 years and extended to 4. At my next yearly appointment I will be told how the study turned out.