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Disease Profile

Iridocorneal endothelial syndrome

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset






Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

ICE syndrome


Iridocorneal endothelial (ICE) syndrome describes a group of eye diseases that are characterized by three main features:[1]

  • Visible changes in the iris (the colored part of the eye that regulates the amount of light entering the eye)
  • Swelling of the cornea, and
  • The development of glaucoma (a disease that can cause severe vision loss when normal fluid inside the eye cannot drain properly)

ICE syndrome, is more common in women than men, most commonly diagnosed in middle age, and is usually present in only one eye. The condition is actually a grouping of three closely linked conditions: Cogan-Reese syndrome; Chandler's syndrome; and essential (progressive) iris atrophy. The cause of ICE syndrome is unknown, however there is a theory that it is triggered by a virus that leads to swelling of the cornea. While there is no way to stop the progression of the condition, treatment of the symptoms may include medication for glaucoma and corneal transplant for corneal swelling.[1][2]


The most common feature of ICE syndrome is the movement of endothelial cells off the cornea onto the iris. This loss of cells from the cornea often leads to swelling of the cornea, distortion of the iris, and variable degrees of distortion of the pupil (the adjustable opening at the center of the iris that allows varying amounts of light to enter the eye). This cell movement also plugs the fluid outflow channels of the eye, causing glaucoma.[1]


The cause of this disease is unknown.[1] However, it has been theorized that a viral infection, such as Herpes simplex virus (HSV) or Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may be the trigger that causes the cornea to swell.[2]


It is not possible to halt the progression of ICE syndrome. Treatment is usually focused on managing the glaucoma associated with the disease, either through medication or possible surgery, to help reduce pressure in the eye. Medication and corneal transplant can also be used to treat corneal swelling.[1][3]


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Learn more

    These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

    Where to Start

    • The National Eye Institute (NEI) was established by Congress in 1968 to protect and prolong the vision of the American people. Click on the link to view information on this topic.

      In-Depth Information

      • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
      • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
      • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Iridocorneal endothelial syndrome. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


        1. Facts About The Cornea and Corneal Disease. National Eye Institute (NEI). May 2013; https://www.nei.nih.gov/health/cornealdisease/. Accessed 12/31/2014.
        2. Gregory W.Oldham, MD and Sarwat Salim MD, FACS. Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndrome and Secondary Glaucoma. EyeWiki: May 7, 2015; https://eyewiki.aao.org/Iridocorneal_Endothelial_Syndrome_and_Secondary_Glaucoma. Accessed 12/1/2015.
        3. Kierstan Boyd. What Is Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE)?. eyeSmart: March 1, 2015; https://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/iridocorneal-endothelial-syndrome-ice/. Accessed 12/1/2015.

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