Stargardt's Disease

What is Stargardt's disease?

Dr. Stargardt was a doctor who first wrote about this eye condition. Children who have this disease lose the central vision. When adults lose central vision it is called macular degeneration.

What causes Stargardt's?

Stargardt's is an inherited eye condition. That means that a baby is born with it even if it does not show at first. When people have a baby, the baby's body has many things that the parents' bodies have. For example, a mother may have curly hair, and her baby may have curly hair just like hers. The father may have brown eyes, and his child will probably have brown eyes, too. But it is possible that two parents who have curly hair could have a baby with straight hair. Two parents who have brown eyes could have a baby who has blue eyes. They have the gene that makes straight hair and blue eyes hidden in their bodies.

Parents who have children who have Stargardt's may not have known that they have it in their bodies. It was hidden. They may not know that it is in their body cells until they have a child who has Stargardt's. Or they may remember that someone else in the family had Stargardt's.

What kind of vision do people have who have Stargardt's?

Central vision is what fully-sighted people use to see details and colors. When that is lost, it is hard to read regular print and to understand maps and charts which are made with colors. Seeing in bright light is also hard. It is easier for people who have Stargardt's to see in dimly lit areas and at night. They notice things that are moving. They rarely trip or bump into things when they are walking or running.

What will help you if you have Stargardt's?

  1. Wear sunglasses and a hat with a dark brim if the light is too bright for you.
  2. Try to get lights indoors that you can make light and dim for yourself.
  3. You may want to use a computer or a CCTV to read. It may help to make the background dark and the letters white. Then there will be less light.
  4. Try making things bigger. It may help and it may not. The easy way to make things look bigger is to move them close to you or move yourself close to them. Use a bookstand to hold your book so that you can sit up to look at it up close. Maybe a magnifier will help you see things close to you. You can make print and pictures bigger on the computer or with a copy machine.
  5. A monocular telescope may help you see signs outside and the board in class. You can use it to see animals in the zoo and things in a museum.
  6. It may help to make the background plain and dark when you look at something light. It may help to make the background plain and light when you look at something dark. This is called "high contrast."
  7. You may want to learn braille for reading. You may want to use touch to find out more about objects.
  8. Listening may be a good way for you to learn.
  9. If you look at things from the side of your eye, you may want to tell people that. Sometimes people may think that you are not looking at what they want you to look at. They may not know that you look from the side of your eye best.

Back to Low Vision Directory