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About Corneal Epithelial Dystrophy & LASIK

Reviewed by Leslie Doctor, M.D.

If present, corneal dystrophy such as Epithelial Basement Membrane Dystrophy (EBMD) can be a problem for those considering LASIK. Corneal dystrophy is a group of eye disorders, characterized by a non inflammatory opacity of the cornea that is typically inherited and affects both eyes. While corneal dystrophy may not significantly affect vision in the early stages it does require proper evaluation and treatment for good eye health, comfort and vision.

Epithelial Basement Membrane Dystrophy (EBMD) is the most common type of corneal dystrophy. While the majority of patients with EBMD are asymptomatic or only experience minor episodes of discomfort, some 10% will eventually complain of recurrent erosions or repeated “scratched cornea”, and/or disturbances of their vision. Epithelial Basement Membrane Dystrophy (EBMD) most typically occurs in adults after the age of 40 but can occur as late as age 70. In this form of corneal dystrophy, the basement membrane of the cornea begins to become thick and irregular so that the once-even layer of cells starts to buckle as the cells break apart and fall off the membrane. This often appears as an irregular pattern of cysts, ridges, and whirls that is often called "Map-Dot-Fingerprint Dystrophy."

For anyone considering Laser Eye Surgery for Laser Vision Correction of any type, in particular LASIK, it is quite important that Epithelial Basement Membrane Dystrophy be recognized and diagnosed prior to having a LASIK Surgery procedure as it can impact the ease and success with which the procedure is performed and the speed of overall recovery.

In fact, depending on the severity and location of Epithelial Basement Membrane Dystrophy, Laser Eye Surgeons might suggest alternative Laser Vision Correction procedures such as PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) which can provide both vision correction and actually help the corneal epithelium stay firmly attached to the underlying corneal basement membrane.


©2011 The Medical Management Services Group

updated 3/12/12