Basement Membrane Dystrophy

Basement Membrane Dystrophy is a corneal disease that affects the outermost layer of the cornea, the epithelium, in its ability to attach to the lower layers of the cornea. The cornea is actually made up of five layers that all must be connected to enable good vision.

This inability to stay connected forces the outer layer of the cornea to grow unevenly or become disconnected, which can affect your vision. This is the most common type of corneal dystrophy, affecting 2% of the population. Depending on how much of the epithelial surface is slack due to the dystrophy, there may be a flash of sharp pain that could go away immediately or last for several hours. If you feel anything unusual or painful in your eye, you should always call our office immediately.

Some patients with Basement Membrane Dystrophy have no negative visual effects while others, especially people with dry eye, can experience painful corneal erosions because of the disconnected cornea layers. The epithelium is layered with more sensory nerves than tooth pulp. At Cornea Consultants of Albany, we treat basement membrane dystrophy using a stepped approach based on your individual symptoms. As your condition advances, we treat it more aggressively. Because there are various symptoms that come with basement membrane dystrophy, we don’t want to use overly aggressive treatments if they are unnecessary. Early steps include lubrication of the cornea through artificial tears and eye medications that are commonly used to treat dry eye. As the membrane dystrophy progresses, we may proceed by gently scraping the outer layer of the cornea manually or by laser, with the goal of having healthy cornea cells regenerate. As a final option, a corneal transplant is available as well. Basement Membrane Dystrophy generally occurs in adults over the age of 40 and is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam. If you feel like you could be experiencing the beginnings of basement membrane dystrophy, call our office to schedule your appointment with our experienced and well-practiced surgeons. As two of the leading ophthalmologists in the state of New York, Drs. Schultze and Eden will be able to treat you with the best of care.

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