Towards Clinical Trials in Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy: Classification and Outcome Measures-The Bowman Club Lecture 2019

BMJ Open Ophthalmol. 2019 Jul 11;4(1):e000321. doi: 10.1136/bmjophth-2019-000321. eCollection 2019.


The surgical treatment of Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) has advanced dramatically over the last two decades. Penetrating keratoplasty has been superseded by various iterations of endothelial keratoplasty, and currently, surgical removal of host Descemet membrane without keratoplasty is being investigated. These surgical advances have been accompanied by significant improvement of our understanding of the underlying disease mechanisms, not least the discovery that FECD in western populations is predominantly an intronic trinucleotide repeat expansion disorder in the transcription factor 4 gene that results in RNA toxicity and mis-splicing. Understanding the disease mechanisms augurs well for developing targeted molecular medical therapies, which will require careful clinical investigation through trials to prove their efficacy and safety. As the field advances towards clinical trials, investigators should carefully define the disease state being treated and consider the options for outcome measures relevant to the type of intervention. FECD, and the outcomes of interventions to treat the disease, can be measured in terms of corneal morphology, corneal function and clinical impact. Standardising the approach for defining FECD and careful thought about the outcomes of intervention that are reported will help make the results of future trials for FECD applicable in clinical practice.

Keywords: Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy; clinical trials; corneal imaging; outcome measures.

Publication types

  • Review