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Corneal Dystrophy

Corneal Dystrophy: Genetic & Progressive Eye Disorders

What Is Corneal Dystrophy?

Corneal dystrophies are a group of relatively rare genetic eye disorders in which abnormal material often accumulates in the cornea — the clear, round dome covering the eye’s iris and pupil. Most corneal dystrophies affect both eyes, progress slowly, and run in families.

What Are the Symptoms of Corneal Dystrophy?

The symptoms of corneal dystrophy depend upon the type of corneal dystrophy. Some people experience no symptoms. In others, the build-up of material in the cornea causes it to become opaque (not clear), leading to blurred vision or vision loss.

What Are the Types of Corneal Dystrophy?

There are more than 20 different types of corneal dystrophies. They are generally grouped into three categories, depending on the part of the cornea that they affect:

  • Anterior or superficial corneal dystrophies affect the outermost layers of the cornea: the epithelium and the Bowman membrane.
  • Stromal corneal dystrophies affect the stroma, the middle and thickest layer of the cornea.
  • Posterior corneal dystrophies affect the innermost parts of the cornea: the endothelium and the Descemet membrane.

What Are the Parts of the Cornea?

Corneal dystrophies are characterized by the accumulation of foreign material in one or more of the five layers of the cornea. The material may cause the cornea to lose its transparency, potentially causing loss of vision or blurred vision. The cornea is made up of five layers:
  • Epithelium: The outermost, protective layer of the cornea.
  • Bowman membrane: This second protective layer is strong.
  • Stroma: The thickest layer of the cornea. It is made up of water, collagen fibers, and other connective tissue to strengthen the cornea and make it flexible and clear.
  • Descemet membrane: A thin, strong inner layer that is also protective.
  • Endothelium: The innermost layer made up of cells that pump excess water out of the cornea.

How Is Corneal Dystrophy Treated?

As with many other cornea conditions, each individual case must be evaluated before a treatment regimen is developed. Based on your symptoms and the progression of the condition, your ophthalmologist will recommend one or more treatments. These may include special ointments, prescription eye drops, laser treatment, or a corneal implant.


Additional Cornea Services

General Information

Corneal diseases can affect your eyesight and eye health.

Corneal Foreign Bodies

Foreign bodies that become lodged within your eye or cornea should be removed right away. Our ophthalmologists will handle the sensitive removal and ensure that all proper medical care is provided to eliminate any future complications.


Keratoconus can cause distorted, blurry vision. Get treatment and surgery for this corneal condition at Rock Hill Eye Center.

Corneal Abrasions

Corneal abrasions are painful and can affect your vision. Get relief with help from the doctors at Rock Hill Eye Center.

Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers aren't just painful; they can cause permanent damage to your eye.

Please allow 24-48 business hours to be contacted regarding your appointment request. We look forward to seeing you soon.

* If this is a medical emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

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