Stargardt’s Disease - Low Vision Glasses can help
Stargardt’s disease is an inherited form of Juvenile macular degeneration. Stargardt's can start as early as 6 to 8 years old, with first symptoms appearing around 12 and progressing with advancing age. The juvenile degeneration involves the macula of the eye and occurs when the photoreceptors, the cells that sense light in the macula, die off, due to abnormal accumulation of a fatty yellow pigment, lipofuscin in the cells within the macula. The macula is responsible for the sharpest vision, so the common symptoms are gray or black spots in the central vision, increased light and glare sensitivity, color blindness and an eventual loss / significant change in central vision.
Stargardt disease typically doesn’t affect peripheral vision, so the people with Stargardt's can see things outside their central vision. Since we use our peripheral vision when we are moving around, most people with Juvenile macular degeneration can manage to move about on their own, albeit with some difficulty.
While there is no cure for the Stargardt, early detection and management can slow down its progression to help maintain the quality of life.
Protection from the ultraviolet rays is quite important for anyone with the Stargardt’s disease as the ultraviolet rays may increase the macular degeneration. So it is wise to use ultraviolet screening sunglasses as well as hats.
There are specialized Low Vision glasses that can help with Stargardt. They require some time and training to adjust seeing through them, but can help immensely in everyday tasks.
Special Prismatic lenses can be employed to redirect the light refraction to reduce the blind spot caused by the juvenile macular degeneration. Although the spot can’t be removed completely, its size can be reduced quite significantly for a better vision. Such prismatic glasses improve reading, writing, playing music, cards, knitting and other indoor activities.
Bioptic Telescopic glasses feature small telescopes integrated with each lens. The bioptics help patients see better and perform everyday tasks including reading and even driving.
Many states even issue special driver’s license to people with reduced vision as in Stargardt’s Disease if they can see with the help of telescopic glasses. The laws vary significantly from state to state.