Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy may affect as many as 7% of adults, a number expected to grow in coming years.
Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy may affect more than 7% of adults. Photo: Paul M. Karpecki, OD. Click image to enlarge.

Determining the global prevalence of Fuchs’ endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) has proven challenging due to the heterogeneity of currently available disease estimates. To address this knowledge gap, researchers recently initiated a systematic review and meta-analysis.

They conducted a systematic electronic literature search on PubMed/MedLine, Cochrane Library and Google Scholar. From this, papers analyzing the prevalence rate of FECD were selected. The Joanna Briggs Institute Prevalence Critical Appraisal Tool was used to perform a risk of bias assessment.

The initial electronic search resulted in a total of 6,660 eligible articles. Following the automatic removal of duplicates as well as the screening of titles and abstracts, the researchers assessed 20 full-text manuscripts for eligibility. Of those, four were included in the qualitative and quantitative analysis.

Among the 4,746 patients included in this meta-analysis, the study authors identified 269 FECD cases (6%). Based on their findings, the researchers estimated the global prevalence of FECD to be as high as 7.33%. The analysis also showed statistically significant gender-related differences in disease prevalence.

The total number of people, older than 30 years, with FECD worldwide will increase from 300 million in 2020 to 415 million in 2050, according to the study authors, who noted that this is mainly the result of the expected growth in the number of older individuals.

“To the best of our knowledge, this work represents the first meta-analysis trying to ascertain the global prevalence of FECD in the adult population,” the study authors stated. “This study provides a reliable figure of the present and future epidemiological burden of FECD globally, which might be useful for the design of FECD screening, treatment, rehabilitation and related public health strategies.”

Aiello F, Afflitto GG, Ceccarelli F, et al. Global prevalence of Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) in adult population: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Ophthalmol. April 14, 2022. [Epub ahead of print].