Stargardt's disease, or STGD, is a form of inherited juvenile macular degeneration. STGD can emerge in late childhood or as a young adult. It results in a progressive loss of central vision, and in the late stages of the disease, loss of color vision.
What is Stargardt's disease?
Most people associate macular degeneration with aging eyes. However, there is also an inherited form of macular degeneration that can cause vision problems at an early age. Stargardt's disease is a condition that causes progressive degeneration of the macula, which is the part of the retina that is responsible for providing focused central vision. Among people with Stargardt's disease, vision loss starts to occur sometime between the ages of 6 and 20 years old. By age 50, a significant percentage of people with STGD will be legally blind.
Symptoms of Stargardt's disease
Macular degeneration associated with STGD can start in early childhood. However, symptoms may not be noticeable for years to come. Some of the first signs of STGD include:
Dark spots in the center of vision
Difficulty adjusting vision between dark and light
Blurry, distorted vision
Difficulty recognizing faces
Loss of color vision
Causes of Stargardt's disease
Stargardt's disease is an inherited condition passed along to children when both parents carry the gene mutation. Parents can also carry the recessive genetic traits responsible for the disease and pass it on to their children without having the condition themselves.
Treatment of Stargardt's disease
Currently, there is no treatment available to cure Stargardt's disease. Researchers have isolated the gene that is responsible for the condition so there is hope for future treatment.
It is important for people with STGD to have access to low vision aids like large print materials and eyewear with light filters. School age children with STGD can benefit from low vision counseling to help them cope with vision problems in the classroom.