Lattice dystrophy gets its name from an accumulation of amyloid deposits, or abnormal protein fibers, throughout the middle and anterior stroma. During an eye examination, the doctor sees these deposits in the stroma as clear, comma-shaped overlapping dots and branching filaments creating a lattice effect. Over time, the lattice lines grow opaque and involve more of the stroma. They also gradually converge, giving the cornea a cloudiness that may also reduce vision.
In some people, these abnormal protein fibers can accumulate under the cornea''s outer layer-the epithelium. This can cause erosion of the epithelium. This condition is known as recurrent epithelial erosion. These erosions alter the cornea''s normal curvature, resulting in temporary vision problems, and expose the nerves that line the cornea, causing severe pain. Even the involuntary act of blinking can be painful.
To ease this pain, a doctor may prescribe eyedrops and ointments to reduce the friction on the eroded cornea. In some cases, an eye patch may be used to immobilize the eyelids. With effective care, these erosions usually heal within three days, although occasional sensations of pain may occur for the next six to eight weeks.
By about age 40, some people with lattice dystrophy have scarring under the epithelium, resulting in a haze on the cornea that can greatly obscure vision. In this case, a corneal transplant may be needed. Although people with lattice dystrophy have an excellent chance of a successful transplant, the disease may also arise in the donor cornea in as little as three years. In one study, about half of the transplant patients with lattice dystrophy had a recurrence of the disease from between 2 to 26 years after the operation. Of these, 15 percent required a second corneal transplant. Early lattice and recurrent lattice arising in the donor cornea respond well to treatment with the excimer laser.
Although lattice dystrophy can occur at any time in life, the condition usually arises in children between the ages of two and seven.
This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.