Objective: To describe the phenotypic variation exhibited by members of families with combined granular-lattice (Avellino) corneal dystrophy.
Setting: We examined 40 patients (age range, 12 to 85 years) from six unrelated families with Avellino corneal dystrophy. This included the first individuals to ever be examined near the presumed site of origin in Italy. In addition, one family was the first to trace its origins to Germany rather than to Italy. We studied the phenotypic expression of the disease in the cornea, visual acuities, subjective complaints, complications, treatment, and histologic condition of these individuals.
Results: The granular stromal lesions reach their mature quantity and size early in life, and appear as either gray and crumb-shaped deposits or superficial with an annular and planar distribution. The lattice component appears gradually, beginning and maturing later in life. The phenotypic variation within families was found to be substantial. Widely variable proportions of lattice and granular changes were found within single sibships. Visual acuities ranged from 20/20 to 20/400. Recurrent corneal erosions were present but infrequent. Subjective complaints included glare and decreased night vision. Penetrating keratoplasty was required in one individual to restore vision. Histopathologic examination revealed typical amyloid and granular deposits. Granular deposits were found replacing Bowman's membrane and extending to the corneal surface. These deposits probably represent the cause of recurrent erosions.
Conclusions: Combined granular and lattice corneal dystrophy may present with substantial phenotypic variation. The disease can be found in individuals who trace their ancestry to both Italy and Germany, a wider geographic distribution than previously proposed.