To review 30 years' clinical experience with Fuchs corneal endothelial dystrophy leading to penetrating keratoplasty (PK).
We reviewed the clinical records of patients diagnosed histopathologically as having Fuchs corneal endothelial dystrophy who underwent PK at Duke University Medical Center between January 1, 1972, and December 31, 2001. This observational case series included 424 patients (546 eyes).
Women represented 77.6% of patients. Mean age at the time of PK for all patients was 69.2 years. Bilateral PK was required in 28.8% of patients, and the mean interval between the 2 PKs was 3.2 years. There was no difference with regard to sex in the likelihood of requiring bilateral PK (P = .59). Among 376 documented family histories, 13.6% were known to be positive for Fuchs dystrophy. Patients with a positive family history underwent PK a mean of 5 years earlier (P<.002) and were more likely to require bilateral PK (P<.003). Patients who underwent bilateral PK were twice as likely to have a positive family history compared with those undergoing unilateral PK (P<.001). Mean visual acuities at corneal thicknesses of 539 to 650 μm, 651 to 750 μm, and greater than 750 μm were 20/60, 20/60, and 20/80, respectively. Patients who underwent bilateral PK and had a preceding cataract extraction on 1 eye required PK of the pseudophakic eye on average 3.2 years earlier than the fellow eye. The mean time from cataract extraction to PK was 2.2 years.
This large study affirms that Fuchs dystrophy is a disorder of aging that predominantly affects women (3.5:1) and is often familial. Pachymetry-determined corneal thickness was a poor predictor of visual acuity until extreme levels of corneal edema were reached. Cataract extraction in an eye with Fuchs dystrophy leads to earlier PK.