Does YOur CHild HAve Stargardt Disease?

Dr. Jim Martin 08/24/2016

child-with-paper-dolls.pngStargardt Disease is a type of inherited macular degeneration of the eyes that typically develops in young children and adolescents. Over time, this eye disorder usually causes severe vision loss, but it does not typically result in complete blindness. This disease affects about one out of every 8,000 to 10,000 people.

What Is Stargardt Disease?

The macula is located in the central portion of the eye's retina. This area primarily is responsible for sharp vision and central, or straight ahead vision, which allows you to perform tasks, such as reading a book or watching TV. Photoreceptor cells are located within the macula. These cells are vital for vision because they sense light and send visual information to the brain.

Unfortunately, when a person has Stargardt Disease, these vital photoreceptor cells stop working correctly and die off. As these cells start to die, a person's vision will be affected immediately. Typically, the macular degeneration of the photoreceptor cells starts out slowly, but will eventually speed up greatly, until finally leveling off. Most people with this disease eventually have between 20/200 and a 20/400 vision.

Symptoms Of Stargardt Disease

Stargardt Disease symptoms do not occur until the disease starts to affect a person's vision. A young child or adolescent may start to complain about seeing hazy, black, or gray spots. They also may have a strong sensitivity to light and it may take longer for their eyes to adjust from light to dark, or vice versa. As the disease progresses, a person may show signs of color blindness.

When To See An Optometrist

A trained optometrist oftentimes can detect Stargardt Disease through a vision test, color blind test and a comprehensive eye examination. During the eye examination, the eye doctor will look for yellowish flecks that develop in the macula of a person who has this disease. The optometrist can run additional tests, such as a Fundus photo of the retina, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), and Electroretinography (ERG) if necessary.

If you or anyone in your family has Stargardt Disease, your children should have regular eye examinations. Even if this disease is not in your family, your children should have annual eye exams. If your children shows symptoms in-between their annual checkups, you should contact your eye doctor immediately.

While there currently is no cure for Stargardt Disease, your eye doctor can diagnose this eye disorder and help you find valuable resources within your community. Call your local Amarillo optometrist at Broome Optical to schedule an appointment today.

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