Map Dot Fingerprint Dystrophy

Map Dot Fingerprint Dystrophy (MDF) is a hereditary disease of the “epithelium” or anterior “skin” of the cornea.

5 layers of the cornea
5 layers of the cornea







Irregularity within the basement membrane of the epithelium leads to skin containing an irregular “fingerprint” or “map like” pattern sometimes containing cystic “dots”.

MDF Fingerprint
MDF Fingerprint
Map Dot Fingerprint
MDF Irregular Epithelium
MDF Dots






Multiple names are used to describe this condition:

  • Epithelial Membrane Dystrophy
  • Cogan’s Microcystic Dystrophy
  • Anterior Membrane Dystrophy


Earliest symptoms of MDF include blurred or variable vision.  Changes in the prescription of the eye occur slowly over months to years with increased irregularity of the epithelium.  As MDF progresses patients can experience painful erosions of the epithelium.  These frequently occur upon wakening in the morning.


Diagnosis usually occurs with a slit lamp examination of the cornea.  In its earliest of stages, MDF can be subtle and is often missed without careful examination.  Corneal Topography can aid in the diagnosis with characteristic irregular astigmatism from the irregular epithelium.

Slit lamp examination
Doctor performing slit lamp examination
Orbscan Corneal Topographer
Orbscan Corneal Topographer







Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms.  Early on MDF can just be monitored and does not require treatment.  If/When patient’s vision becomes limited or painful erosions ensue removal of the irregular epithelium can be attempted.

Watch this video to learn more about MDF:

View Video