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Seeing corneal degeneration in a new light

A UT Southwestern study shows what happens over the decades it takes for one eye disease to develop and cause symptoms
June 17, 2020

The molecular changes that lead to Fuchs’ endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) occur decades before the disease causes blurry vision and other noticeable symptoms in patients, new research by UT Southwestern scientists shows. This insight into this earliest stage of FECD may eventually lead to new ways of screening for and treating the common condition, which affects an estimated 4 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 40.

When the researchers compared the patterns of gene expression among eyes from people with FECD, people with a genetic predisposition to FECD, and healthy controls, they pinpointed a number of molecular changes in the corneas of people diagnosed with FECD. Moreover, many of those same changes were already measurable in the eyes of people with the gene for FECD, even though they hadn’t yet developed symptoms.