• Disease Overview
  • Synonyms
  • Signs & Symptoms
  • Causes
  • Affected Populations
  • Disorders with Similar Symptoms
  • Standard Therapies
  • Clinical Trials and Studies
  • References
  • Programs & Resources
  • Complete Report

Chandler’s Syndrome


Last updated: March 30, 2016
Years published: 1993, 1997, 2004, 2010, 2013, 2016


NORD gratefully acknowledges Sarwat Salim, MD, FACS, Professor of Ophthalmology, Chief, Glaucoma Service, Medical College of Wisconsin, for assistance in the preparation of this report.

Disease Overview

Chandler’s syndrome (CS) is a rare eye disorder in which the endothelium, the single layer of cells lining the interior of the cornea, proliferates causing corneal edema, distortion of the iris, and unusually high pressure in the eye (glaucoma). CS is one of three syndromes affecting the eyes (progressive iris atrophy and Cogan-Reese syndrome are the other two) that make up the iridocorneal endothelial syndrome (ICE syndrome). The spectrum is an acquired, unilateral disorder, which typically occurs in early to middle adulthood and predominantly affects women. Chandler’s syndrome is the most commonly encountered clinical variant of this spectrum.

Most often the condition affects one eye only, but the fellow eye often has subclinical involvement. The combination of high pressure within the eye (glaucoma) and corneal edema can result in reduced vision, frequently requiring surgical intervention with variable success rates.

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  • iridocorneal endothelial syndrome
  • iris atrophy with corneal edema and glaucoma
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Signs & Symptoms

Chandler’s syndrome is characterized by proliferation of the cells lining the cornea, swelling of the cornea with distortion of the iris and glaucoma (optic nerve damage from high pressure) within the eye.

The pupil of the eye appears to be out of place, i.e. located in an out-of-the-ordinary position and distorted in shape and size (corectopia). In Chandler’s syndrome, whatever iris atrophy occurs is mild when compared to that associated with progressive iris atrophy and Cogan-Reese syndrome. Typically, the corneal endothelium presents as a hammered, silver surface on the back of the cornea. Because iris alternations may be minimal in the early stage of the disease, CS is often not recognized initially by the clinicians.

The disorder may cause blurred vision, pain in the eye with eventual loss of vision. Usually only one eye is affected; however, the other eye may, very rarely, be clinically involved.

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The single layer of cells lining the inside of the surface of the cornea is known as the endothelium. One of the roles played by the endothelium is to pump aqueous humor (fluid inside the eye) from the cornea. If the behavior of the endothelium is interrupted (as in Chandler’s syndrome), the pumping action fails, and fluid accumulates in the cornea (corneal edema) resulting in blurred vision. In addition, the abnormal endothelial cells can migrate as a membrane over adjacent structures, including the iris and the trabecular meshwork (the drainage canal of the eye). Contraction of this membrane leads to associated iris changes (corectopia) and iridotrabecular synechiae causing obstruction of aqueous outflow in the trabecular meshwork resulting in secondary glaucoma.

The exact cause of Chandler’s syndrome is not known. Some researchers suspect that inflammation or chronic viral infection may be the cause of the disease. Herpes simplex virus DNA has been demonstrated with polymerase chain reaction in corneal specimens obtained from patients with ICE syndrome.

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Affected populations

Chandler’s syndrome is a very rare disorder that affects females more often than it does males. The disorder usually appears during young adult to middle aged years. However, its occurrence in a child and a teenager has been reported. ICE syndrome has been described in different ethnic groups, although the prevalence of the 3 clinical variants may vary among ethnicities.

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Standard Therapies


Treatment of Chandler’s syndrome usually involves the use of drops in the eyes to control the glaucoma and swelling (edema). Mild cases or corneal edema are often managed with soft contact lenses and hypertonic saline solutions. In advanced cases penetrating or endothelial keratoplasty may be required, although the failure rate is high with need for repeat corneal grafts. In some individuals, the corneal edema may be improved with reduction in intraocular pressure. Medical therapy for glaucoma is usually initiated with aqueous suppressants, including beta blockers, alpha-2 agonists and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors. Prostaglandin analogues may be helpful in some cases. Surgical intervention for glaucoma is eventually required in a high percentage of patients with ICE syndrome. The most commonly performed procedure is trabeculectomy, with variable success rates. Glaucoma drainage devices have shown favorable outcomes in a small number of patients, but further studies are warranted to validate these results in a large series. Laser surgery is rarely effective.

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Clinical Trials and Studies

Information on current clinical trials is posted on the Internet at www.clinicaltrials.gov. All studies receiving U.S. government funding, and some supported by private industry, are posted on this government web site.

For information about clinical trials being conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, contact the NIH Patient Recruitment Office:
Tollfree: (800) 411-1222
TTY: (866) 411-1010
Email: prpl@cc.nih.gov

For information about clinical trials sponsored by private sources, contact:

For information about clinical trials conducted in Europe, contact:

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Salim S, Shields MB. Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndromes. In: Kahook and Schuman, eds. Chandler and Grant’s Glaucoma. Slack Incorporated. New Jersey. 2013:319-326.

Shields MB. Iridocorneal Endothelial Syndromes. In: NORD Guide to Rare Disorders. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Philadelphia, PA. 2003:649.

Kanski JJ. Ed. Clinical Ophthalmology. 4th ed. Butterworth-Heinemann. Oxford, UK. 1999:233-34.

Geyer O, Neufelder M, Michaeli-Cohen A, et al. Radiation-induced Chandler’s syndrome. Isr Med Assoc J. 2000;2:241-42.

Huna R, Barak A, Melamed S. Bilateral iridocorneal endothelial syndrome presented as Cogan-Reese and Chandler’s syndrome. J Glaucoma.1996;5:60-62.

Hirst LW, Bancroft J, Yamauchi K, et al. Immunohistochemical pathology of the corneal endothelium in iridocorneal endothelial syndrome. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci.1995;36:820-27.

Hemady RK, Patel A, Blum S, et al. Bilateral iridocorneal endothelial syndrome: case report and review of the literature. Cornea.1994;13:368-72.


Devine N. ed. ICE Syndrome Chat Highlights. “ICE Syndrome” July 23, 2003. Available at: http://willsglaucoma.org/ice-syndrome-2 Accessed March 30, 2016.

Facts About The Cornea and Corneal Disease. National Eye Institute (NEI). Last Update: May 2013. Available at: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/cornealdisease/#g Accessed March 30, 2016.

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Programs & Resources

RareCare® Assistance Programs

NORD strives to open new assistance programs as funding allows. If we don’t have a program for you now, please continue to check back with us.

Additional Assistance Programs

MedicAlert Assistance Program

NORD and MedicAlert Foundation have teamed up on a new program to provide protection to rare disease patients in emergency situations.

Learn more https://rarediseases.org/patient-assistance-programs/medicalert-assistance-program/

Rare Disease Educational Support Program

Ensuring that patients and caregivers are armed with the tools they need to live their best lives while managing their rare condition is a vital part of NORD’s mission.

Learn more https://rarediseases.org/patient-assistance-programs/rare-disease-educational-support/

Rare Caregiver Respite Program

This first-of-its-kind assistance program is designed for caregivers of a child or adult diagnosed with a rare disorder.

Learn more https://rarediseases.org/patient-assistance-programs/caregiver-respite/

Patient Organizations

National Organization for Rare Disorders