EBMD: Symptoms and Treatments
What Is EBMD?
Epithelial basement membrane dystrophy is a degenerative corneal condition. When you have EBMD, what occurs is the basement membrane in your eyes doesn’t properly adhere to the epithelium and is considered ‘faulty’. This causes the membrane to be thicker than usual and grow into the epithelium, causing these epithelial cells to break off, which can cause pain and erosions of the eye.
EBMD also goes by the name of map-dot-fingerprint-dystrophy, named so for the unique pattern it causes on the cornea. A person experiencing epithelial basement membrane dystrophy will have irregular shapes showing on the cornea during routine eye examinations.
Symptoms of EBMD
Most times EBMD is painless and resolves itself. However, in some severe cases, it can cause extreme pain in the eyes due to wearing down the epithelial layer. If you’re experiencing any other symptoms of map-dot-fingerprint-dystrophy mentioned here it’s a good time to make an appointment to have your eyes checked.
- Increased sensitivity to light
If you’re experiencing increased sensitivity to light, especially if accompanied with pain upon waking on in the mornings, this could be a symptom of EBMD.
- Something ‘stuck’ in the eye
This frustrating symptom is also a good indicator that something isn’t quite right with your eyes. The sensation of having something unseen stuck in the eye is uncomfortable and certainly calls for a visit to the optometrist’s office for an eye exam to look for additional telltale signs of EBMD.
- Tearing eyes with pain
Epiphora is the medical term given to watery eyes accompanied by pain. While indicative of any number of unrelated problems such as hay fever/allergies, pinkeye, cold/flu, or wind damage, it’s always best to have any unusual eye pains and watering checked out.
- Blurred vision
Blurred vision is another symptom that can occur in a number of eye conditions, but if you have any other accompanying symptoms mentioned above, then EBMD is likely the cause.
- Sudden changes in vision
To have a sudden change in vision or your prescription could be another indicator of map-dot-fingerprint-dystrophy. Your optometrist will be able to confirm this with an easy test to examine your cornea.
Due to EBMD causing an uneven corneal surface, astigmatism can be an indicator of this dystrophy as well.
Treatment for EBMD
While EBMD is common and tends to resolve itself, the symptoms of pain and tearing which more severe cases can cause can certainly be frustrating. If your EBMD is causing problems there are a number of solutions to ease your symptoms, and get your eyes some immediate relief.
- Eye patch
Wearing an eye patch provides temporary relief from any symptoms of EBMD you may be experiencing. The patch allows the affected eyes to relax and heal. Often times your optometrist will accompany an eye patch with artificial tear drops.
- Ointments and eye drops
In more severe cases your optometrist will recommend a medicated ointment/eye drop to use during the day which removes the excess fluid from the cornea to provide you relief. Similarly, hypertonic eye drops act the same way and draws out excess water and fluids to reduce any swelling that may occur on your cornea.
- Gas-permeable contact lenses
These contact lenses can help to create a smooth surface on your eye, while allowing the eye to also ‘breathe’. These contacts can provide relief for any eye pain you may be experiencing.
A surgery required for EBMD will be performed by your eye doctor in their office. The affected eye will be have the loose epithelium will be removed gently, covered with a medicated contact lens, and a medicated ointment will be prescribed. Though this sounds scary, the procedure is mild, and numbing eye drops are used to reduce and minimize any pain. Healing from the surgery is takes anywhere from a few days to up to a week and once healed, provides relief for any painful symptoms caused by EBMD.
The majority of people who have map-dot-fingerprint-dystrophy will never show symptoms or be aware that they have it, or the symptoms are so mild that they never seek help for it. Because the symptoms can be so mild, the estimate range of people with EBMD is anywhere from 2-43% However, EBMD is a lifelong disease which will require regular monitoring through routine (twice yearly recommended) visits to the optometrists.
While EBMD is not curable, or preventable, it is manageable through diligence and awareness. Your best defence against epithelial basement membrane dystrophy will always be proper eye care. This includes making regular eye appointments to spot any of the telltale signs as soon as possible. With routine checkups you can watch for the symptoms of EBMD, as well as manage any discomfort as soon as possible.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from these symptoms of EBMD, or have any other concerns about your eye health and vision, Orchard Park Optometry is here to help you feel – and see – your absolute best!
Book now with us for your Kelowna eye exam. We are currently accepting new patients!