Stargardt Disease

What is Stargardt Disease?
Stargardt disease is a form of macular degeneration that affects children and young adults. Those who develop this disease will typically experience a change in central vision.

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty distinguishing colors
  • Trouble distinguishing shapes and details
  • Difficulty adapting to bright light
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Hazy spots or black spots in central vision
  • Trouble adjusting from dark to light or light to dark
  • One may develop color blindness or peripheral vision loss as disease progresses
Many times, those affected by Stargardt’s disease won’t notice vision loss until adulthood. Vision typically reaches 20/200 or worse.

How does Stargardt’s disease develop?
Stargardt’s is an inherited disease from an autosomal recessive trait. This means that each parent must carry a Stargardt’s gene, called ABCA4. However, in order for a child to receive this trait, the child must receive the ABCA4 gene from each parent. There is a 25% chance of a child receiving this disease if both parents carry the gene, and there is a 50% chance the child will become a carrier of this trait.

Autosomal recessive trait is explained here:

Stargardt’s explained
Because of this gene, pigments called lipofuscin abnormally build up within the eye. These appear as yellow-like flecks within the macula, which slow or eliminate photoreceptor cells. Photoreceptor cells convey information to the brain, which ultimately allow us to process images.

Stargardt’s disease is also called Stargardt’s macular dystrophy, juvenile macular degeneration, and fundus flavimaculatus.

Diagnosing Stargardt’s
If you have experience any of the symptoms listed, see an eye doctor immediately.

What precautions can one take?
There are several precautions one cant take to help slow or help the process of Stargardt’s disease. Take the following steps:

  • Wear sunglasses with 100% UV light protection
  • Avoid vitamin A supplements (Vitamin A is usually used to improve vision, however, Stargardt’s disease does not metabolize the vitamin)
  • Avoid cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke
Sources
Stargardt Disease. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.blindness.org/stargardt-disease

Stargardt Disease Defined. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.macular.org/stargardt-disease

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