Stargardt's Disease

by Garreth Myers

Stargardt’s disease comes under the group of diseases, namely, macular degenerations. These diseases are known to affect the macular region of retina. This particular disease is named after the German ophthalmologist Karl Stargardt. The two alternative names of this ailment are fundus flavimaculatus and juvenile macular degeneration. It is referred to as juvenile macular degeneration because it most commonly occurs at an age of 7 to 12 years. Stargardt’s disease is considered as one of the most common causes of macular degeneration in children.

Stargardt’s disease is an inherited macular degeneration and is being established to be linked with 1p21-p13 chromosomes. Psychophysical tests indicate this disease to be a localized retinal dystrophy. This affects the central vision of the eye, while the peripheral vision is left unaffected. So, patients do not suffer from total blindness in this case.

Stargardt’s disease affects the retina of the eye. The retina is comprised of many layers, out of which one layer is the retinal pigment epithelium. In this particular condition, a substance called lipofuscin gets deposited in the retinal pigment epithelium, and this leads to several symptoms and vision problems. The macula, which is present at the center of the retina, is mostly affected.

The various symptoms of Stargardt’s disease include blurred or distorted vision, failing to see in settings with low lights, difficulty recognizing faces, trouble in reading, and loss of color vision in the later stages. Blind spots may appear in this condition. At first, the size of the blind spots is small but it may increase gradually.

Various researches have shown light exposure, oxidative damage, smoking, and abnormal cholesterol as the risk factors of Stargardt’s disease in addition to the genetic causes. The infection caused by exposure to the cigarette smoke may degenerate the macula. It is always recommended to consult an ophthalmologist in order to take the proper diagnostic tests. From the diagnostic tests, the fact could be clearer as to whether the condition is fully genetic or any underlying infection is also associated with it. The health professional may refer to any of the following diagnostic tests such as visual acuity testing, color testing, visual field testing, electroretinogram, fundus photographs, and fluorescein angiogram.  

There are no available therapies to cure Stargardt’s disease. But proper care can be taken to prevent the condition from worsening. Patients should always wear sunglasses with ultraviolet protection in order to protect their eyes. The academic settings should make use of the low vision aids for the children suffering from Stargardt’s disease. The surrounding environmental conditions and proper hygienic conditions should be well taken care of, to minimize any chances of ocular infection.


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