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Stargardt's

Stargardt’s is probably the most common form of juvenile macular dystrophy. It can develop and be diagnosed as early as 6 years old however, people more commonly become aware of sight problems in their twenties and thirties.

It’s thought that people with Stargardt’s cannot process vitamin A properly, so it’s important to avoid excess vitamin A. You may also want to avoid bright lights as it can accelerate the progress of the disease.

Symptoms

Stargardt’s causes some of the cells in the macular to gradually die, it is eventually surrounded by a ring of white or yellow spots. An important layer of the retina, the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is also affected by an accumulation of ‘waste’ material called lipofuscin. As macular cells deteriorate, your ability to see clearly will change. Sight loss can be variable and there is usually a slow progression of the loss of central vision.

Genetics

Stargardt’s is usually in the recessive form, inherited from both parents who are carriers but are not necessarily affected themselves. There is also a rare dominant form inherited from one parent.

Treatment

Unfortunately there is currently no treatment available for Stargardt’s, although the identification of the gene gives more hope for a cure in the future from such fields as gene therapy or cell transplantation.


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