Free radicals (2010) implicated in Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD)


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A research study published in 2010 indicates that free radical damage is a contributor in the development of Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD), a potentially blinding disease characterized by the programmed cell death of epithelial cells in the eye's cornea (the clear tissue in the front of the eye). This is the most common reason for corneal transplant surgery.

Although genetic factors in FECD have been identified, mechanisms involved in its development were unclear. For their study, the researchers compared corneal epithelial tissue samples from FECD patients who received corneal transplants to samples derived from subjects who did not have the disease. They discovered a reduction in the level of antioxidants in the majority of FECD specimens and increased DNA damage.

They therefore concluded that oxidative stress - stress by free radicals plays a key role in development of Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy. The finding is significant for the nearly 4% of the population over 60 who are affected by FECD.

The researchers recommended that patients who are at risk supplement with a multivitamin, consume more leafy green vegetables and wear ultraviolet protection.

Published: The American Journal of Pathology, November, 2010.
Researchers: Ula V. Jurkunas, MD and her colleagues at the Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston