Corneal dystrophies are a group of inherited eye conditions that affect the cornea, the transparent front part of the eye. One of the most common types of corneal dystrophy is known by several names, including map dot fingerprint dystrophy, Cogan’s dystrophy, anterior basement membrane dystrophy, and epithelium basement membrane dystrophy. Despite the different names, these terms all refer to the same condition characterized by weak areas in the top layer of the corneal epithelium, leading to blurred vision and recurrent corneal erosions.
Understanding Cogan’s Dystrophy
Map dot fingerprint dystrophy is typically an inherited condition, meaning it runs in families, although it can also occur spontaneously. The condition gets its name from the patterns observed on the cornea when viewed under a microscope. In the early stages, the corneal surface may develop irregularly shaped patterns resembling a map or dots, which eventually evolve into a fingerprint-like appearance.
The weak areas in the corneal epithelium can lead to symptoms such as blurry or fluctuating vision, as well as recurring corneal erosions. Corneal erosions occur when the outermost layer of the cornea separates from the underlying tissue, causing pain, light sensitivity, and watering of the eye. These erosions can happen spontaneously or be triggered by minor trauma, such as rubbing the eyes.
The treatment for map dot fingerprint dystrophy depends on the severity of the symptoms and the impact on the patient’s quality of life. In some cases, simple measures such as using artificial tears throughout the day can provide relief by keeping the eyes lubricated. These lubricating drops can help reduce discomfort and minimize the risk of corneal erosions.
For individuals experiencing recurrent corneal erosions or persistent symptoms, more advanced treatments may be necessary. One option is debridement, a procedure to remove the damaged or irregularly adherent epithelium. By removing the problematic areas, the healing process can be improved, and symptoms can be alleviated. Debridement can be performed using a specialized instrument or with the help of a laser.
In more severe cases or when conservative measures are not effective, other treatments may be considered. These treatments include using a therapeutic bandage contact lens to protect the cornea and promote healing, applying ointments or gels at night to prevent drying, or in some instances, undergoing phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK). PTK involves using a laser to remove a thin layer of the cornea, allowing healthier tissue to regenerate.
Seeking Professional Care for EBMD
If you suspect you may have map dot fingerprint dystrophy or are experiencing symptoms such as blurred vision and recurring corneal erosions, it is important to consult with an eye care professional. An ophthalmologist or optometrist can perform a comprehensive eye examination and confirm the diagnosis.
They will evaluate the severity of your condition and discuss appropriate treatment options based on your specific needs. Regular follow-up appointments may also be recommended to monitor the progression of the dystrophy and adjust treatment as necessary to continue to have the best possible outcomes.