Stargardt's Disease

Early Onset Macular Degeneration

Originally described by German ophthalmologist Karl Stargardt in 1901, for whom it is named, Stargardt’s Disease is a retinal disorder that affects the macula early in life and hence is often called Juvenile Macular Degeneration or Early Onset Macular Degeneration. Unlike Age-related Macular Degeneration, there is never a leakage of blood or fluid, though the same area of the retina (the macula) is affected.

The macula is the central part of the retina that is responsible for providing sharp detail and color vision. As in Age-related Macular Degeneration, Stargardt’s Disease does not affect the peripheral retina and as a result individuals do not lose all of their vision. They can usually walk and engage in general activities with little difficulty. Reading and seeing details such as signs and faces at a distance are however affected. Stargardt’s disease affects over 30,000 individuals in the US and occurs in approximately one in 10,000 individuals.

Stargardt disease is the most common cause of Macular Degeneration and central visual loss in young people. It often develops in the teens or twenties, in both genders, but may develop in younger children and even sometimes later in life. It affects both eyes, though one may be worse than the other. In certain more rare types the peripheral vision may also be affected. Vision loss tends to progress rapidly at first, but usually stabilizes at about 20/200 (6/60) visual acuity.

Low vision care can be very effective to help individuals with Stargardt’s Disease to lead very normal lives. Vision loss from Stargardt’s Disease responds very well to magnification which can make reading, seeing signs, faces, the computer, TV and even driving a possibility. There is a wide range of optical, electronic and software magnification options to address virtually every need.

Every individual with Stargardt’s Disease should have a low vision examination by a doctor skilled in low vision rehabilitation to help identify the most appropriate options to enhance their visual functioning, academic and vocational potential and their personal quality of life.

Stargardt's Disease is also known as:

  • Juvenile Macular Degeneration
  • Juvenile Onset Macular Degeneration
  • Stargardt Disease
  • Fundus Flavimaculatus
  • Stargardt Macular Dystrophy
Retinal Photograph of Stargardt’s Disease

Retinal Photograph of Stargardt’s Disease