Free Radicals May Cause Corneal Damage in Fuch’s Dystrophy

antioxidantsAmong the most common eye health conditions that necessitate a corneal transplant is Fuch’s Dystrophy. This debilitating eye disease causes deterioration of the corneal endothelial cells. Fluid then builds up in the cornea resulting in swelling, cloudy vision, pain, and reduction in corneal transparency. BostonSight™ PROSE Treatment, in coordination with other surgical procedures, has been successful in helping many people with Fuch’s dystrophy regain sight and alleviate the painful eye symptoms and photophobia that accompany this serious condition.

Although little is known about the cause of Fuch’s dystrophy, recent research is shedding light on its origins. Improved knowledge and insight of Fuch’s may lead to new and improved treatments for patients. For many, this is a hereditary condition that affects nearly 4% of the population over age 60. Scientists have made progress in identifying the genes involved in the disease but they have uncovered little knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of the disease process. Researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston have found that free radicals may cause the eye damage in Fuch’s dystrophy. Free radicals are unstable molecules in the body. If sufficient antioxidants are unavailable to neutralize these free radicals or if the number of free radicals is excessive, cellular damage can occur.

With this new discovery that links free radicals to the cellular damage that occurs in Fuch’s dystrophy, it is hoped that perhaps an antioxidant regime might be developed to protect the cornea and thereby prevent the resulting permanent damage to the eye. Researchers are continuing their efforts by trying to identify specific antioxidants that will neutralize the free radicals that contribute the corneal damage  from Fuchs’ dystrophy.

Until more specific knowledge about this condition is uncovered, researchers involved in this study suggest that patients eat a healthful diet that includes plenty of green leafy vegetables, take a multivitamin, and protect the eyes from UV light by wearing sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats while outside. As always, before changing your diet or taking any new supplements, it’s best to first consult your physician to avoid potential adverse effects and determine the best treatment path for your health condition.

Do you have any questions about a specific eye health condition or area of eye health research? Propose your questions here and we will follow up in a future blog post.

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