Stargardt Disease and Ocutech Visual Aids

What Is Stargardt Disease?

When it comes to your vision, any unexpected issue can make you feel vulnerable, as well as anxious about your ability to cope and eventually recover. So when a patient is given the initial diagnosis of Stargardt’s Disease, it can be alarming. Stargardt’s Disease is a rare genetic eye disease that occurs when fatty material builds up on the macula. Not only does that sound serious, but it’s also difficult for most people to understand. First, it’s important to point out that this is a rare disease and the chances of developing it are low. It is a genetic condition, and the disease should only appear if someone in your biological family has had it before.

The macula is the part of your retina that is sensitive to light and transmits sharp, clear images to the brain. The macular degeneration associated with Stargardt’s Disease is progressive, so your vision will gradually deteriorate over time. You won’t lose your sight entirely, but Stargardt Disease can make it harder to focus on things like computer screens, or the road in front of you. Typically, vision loss tends to begin in childhood, between the ages of 6 and 12. However, Stargardt’s Disease can  also occur in adults who have lived their entire lives with no issues beforehand.

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What Are Common Symptoms of Stargardt Disease?

Though Stargardt Disease is rare, it is still necessary to look out for the signs, especially if the disease has occurred within your family’s medical history. The most common symptom of Stargardt Disease is the slow loss of central vision in both eyes. For example, if you are struggling to focus on items directly ahead of you that were never a problem before, it’s essential to head to a trained optical professional. Another common sign of Stargardt’s Disease is seeing gray, black, or hazy spots in the center of your vision.

Also, pay attention to how your eyes interact with both natural and artificial light. If you find yourself experiencing an increased sensitivity, or struggling to adjust between light and dark places, this could be a sign of the disease. In addition, some patients report suffering from color blindness due to this type of eye issue. Lastly, some people who suffer from Stargardt may also suffer from side vision loss.

How Do I Get Help For Stargardt Disease?

Unfortunately, there is no current effective treatment or cure for Stargardt Disease. An experienced eye doctor will perform a dilated eye exam to check for this specific optical issue. In addition to dilating your pupils, he may choose to perform additional testing, including:

  • Color vision testing to diagnose possible color blindness
  • Taking a photo of your retina to identify issues with your macula
  • An ERG test to gauge how well your retina responds to light
  • An OCT test to capture a detailed image of your entire retina
  • Genetic testing to identify the likelihood of inheriting this disease

Promising research is underway that could provide hope for new treatment options. If Stargardt Disease runs in your family, or your eye doctor has identified you as at risk, there are a few key actions you can take to slow down the rate of vision loss. For starters, be sure to wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses whenever you are outside in the sun to limit your eyes’ exposure to ultraviolet light. Second, restrict vitamin A intake by only taking the recommended daily amount. Lastly, avoid first or secondhand smoke from cigarettes.

How Ocutech Can Help With Stargardt Disease

Ocutech is a North Carolina-based low vision aid manufacturer. Founder Dr. Henry A. Greene has spent over three decades working to help people enjoy an everyday life while dealing with optical issues such as Stargardt disease. His team of low-vision professionals has developed a series of high-quality products which can help restore your vision to be as close to normal as possible.

If you have been diagnosed with Stargardt Disease and want to understand your options, please fill out this brief form, and one of our trained optical specialists will be in contact with you to discuss the options and Ocutech prescribers near you.