The symptoms of corneal dystrophies result from accumulation of abnormal material within the cornea, the clear outer layer of the eye.
The cornea serves two primary functions; it protects the rest of the eye from dust, germs and other harmful or irritating material, and it acts as the eye’s outermost lens, bending incoming light onto the inner lens, where the light is then directed to the retina (a membranous layer of light-sensing cells in the back of the eye).
The retina converts light to images, which are then transmitted to the brain. The cornea must remain clear (transparent) to be able to focus incoming light.
The cornea is made up of five distinct layers: the epithelium, the outermost, protective layer of the cornea; the Bowman membrane, this second layer is extreme tough and difficult to penetrate further protecting the eye; the stroma, the thickest layer of the cornea, consisting of water, collagen fibers and other connective tissue components that give the cornea its strength, elasticity and clarity; Descemet membrane, a thin, strong inner layer that also acts as a protective layer; and the endothelium, the innermost layer consisting of specialized cells that pump excess water out of the cornea.
Corneal dystrophies are characterized by the accumulation of foreign material in one or more of the five layers of the cornea. Such material may cause the cornea to lose its transparency potentially causing loss of vision or blurred vision.
A symptom common to many forms of corneal dystrophy is recurrent corneal erosion, in which the outermost layer of the cornea (epithelium) does not stick (adhere) to the eye properly. Recurrent corneal erosion can cause discomfort or severe pain, an abnormal sensitivity to light (photophobia), the sensation of a foreign body (such as dirt or an eyelash) in the eye, and blurred vision.
If you believe that you have any of these symptoms please call one of Palm Beach Eye Centers today for an exam. One of our physicians will be able to thoroughly exam your eyes and answer your questions and concerns.