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Vision Information - Lattice Dystrophy

Vision Information - Lattice Dystrophy

In technical terms, lattice dystrophy is an accumulation of amyloid deposits (abnormal protein fibers) throughout the middle and anterior stroma (a large part of the cornea).

An eye examination will reveal these deposits as clear, comma-shaped overlapping dots and filaments that create a lattice effect and, in time, they become opaque and occupy more of the stroma. As they converge, the cornea will become hazy and reduced vision may result.

In some patients, the abnormal protein fibers accumulate under the epithelium, the cornea's outer layer, causing erosion that is referred to as recurrent epithelial erosion. The erosion does the following to the cornea:

  • It changes the normal curvature of the cornea, resulting in temporary vision problems.
  • It exposes the nerves that line the cornea causing severe pain. Even simple blinking can be painful.

To reduce this discomfort, an ophthalmologist may prescribe ointments and eye drops to lessen the friction on the eroded cornea. He may also suggest an eye patch to immobilize the eyelids. If treatment proceeds satisfactorily, the erosions usually heal within three days, although occasional pain can occur over the following six to eight weeks.

Around the age of 40, some people suffering lattice dystrophy will have scarring under the epithelium, causing cloudiness on the cornea that greatly affects vision. In this instance, a corneal transplant may be needed. Although there is a good success rate for this transplant, the disease may also occur in the donor cornea within three years. Clinical studies reveal that around 50 percent of lattice dystrophy patients have a recurrence of the disease between two to twenty-six years following the operation. Fifteen percent of these required a second corneal transplant.

Lattice dystrophy can occur at any age, but statistics reveal the condition occurring usually in children between the ages of two and seven.

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