PURPOSE: Patients with Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) often notice poor vision in the morning that improves as the day progresses. In this study, we determined changes in corneal optical properties associated with induced corneal edema.
METHODS: Twenty-three phakic eyes (23 participants) with FECD (grades 1-6, modified Krachmer scale) and 8 normal eyes (8 participants) were examined by Scheimpflug photography. Central corneal thickness, high-order aberrations from anterior and posterior corneal surfaces, and backscatter from the anterior, mid-, and posterior cornea were determined from the Scheimpflug images. A low-oxygen permeable contact lens was placed on the eye, and eyes were closed for 2 hours, after which the lens was removed and Scheimpflug photography was repeated for up to 5 hours to determine changes in backscatter and high-order aberrations.
RESULTS: Corneas swelled by 10% [95% confidence interval (CI), 9-10]. Backscatter from the anterior cornea increased by 416 scatter units (SU, 95% CI, 344-488; P < 0.001), independent of the presence and severity of FECD. Recovery of anterior backscatter was slower in advanced FECD (81 SU/h, 95% CI, 60-120) compared with normal (123 SU/h, 95% CI, 95-150; P = 0.019). Anterior and posterior corneal high-order aberrations, and mid and posterior backscatter, did not increase with induced swelling.
CONCLUSIONS: Inducing corneal edema increases anterior corneal backscatter but not high-order aberrations. Subjective poor vision in the morning in FECD is probably caused by scattered light rather than by high-order aberrations, suggesting that these patients experience more disability glare than decreased visual acuity.
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