Stargardt disease (STGD), also known as Stargardt macular dystrophy or juvenile macular degeneration, is a genetic eye condition that affects approximately 1 in 8,000 to 10,000 people worldwide. Often diagnosed in adolescents and young adults, Stargardt disease would result in progressive vision loss, such as blurred vision, central vision loss, and difficulties with the perception of color. In this blog, we will explore the causes and symptoms of Stargardt disease, as well as the treatment options for this condition.
1. What is Stargardt Disease (STGD)?
Stargardt disease (STGD) is a genetic disorder that affects the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that enables us to see. Stargardt disease typically affects children and young adults, and symptoms usually appear between the ages of 6 and 20. Furthermore, the severity and development of this disease might differ greatly even among people with the same genetic mutation.
Causes of Stargardt Disease
In brief, Stargardt disease is caused by mutations in the ABCA4 gene. The mutations that cause Stargardt disease can be inherited from one or both parents who carry the gene or can occur spontaneously in a person without any family history of the condition. In certain instances, the mutation may be passed down from an ancestor who was a carrier but doesn’t show any symptoms of it. ABCA4 gene is responsible for generating a protein that helps remove a toxic byproduct of the visual cycle in the retina. When the ABCA4 protein is malfunctioning, the harmful byproduct, known as lipofuscin, builds up in the retinal cells and damages the retina, and would cause progressive vision impairment over time.
2. Stargardt Disease and Vision Loss Symptom
Individuals with Stargardt disease may experience different signs and symptoms. Common warning indicators of Stargardt disease include the following:
- Centralvision loss. It is the most common symptom of Stargardt disease. This symptom can also manifest as a blind spot in the center of the visual field. This can make it challenging to observe details, carry out daily tasks, read the small print, or recognize faces.
- Blurred or distorted vision. Even with corrective lenses, thissymptom can make it challenging to see clearly, and can be problematic for tasks like driving or navigating unfamiliar environments.
- Color vision impairment. Some individuals may have difficulty distinguishing between certain colors, while others may experience a loss of color vision altogether. The ability to differentiate between distinct colors may be challenging as a result.
- Sensitive to light. Some individuals may feel uncomfortable when they go outside and under strong sunshine.
3. How Do Stargardt Disease Patients Benefit from Low Vision Aids
There are several types of low-vision aids available, including magnifiers, telescopes, electronic video devices, low vision E-glasses, etc. For people with Stargardt disease, those low vision aids can improve eyesight and allow patients to perform daily tasks with greater ease and independence. Here are three major benefits of low vision aids in supporting patients with Stargardt disease:
- Improved visual acuity: Low vision aids can help people improve visual acuity by magnifying images and text, and reduce the impact of blurred or distorted vision on their daily life. This can make it easier for people with Stargardt disease to read, watch TV, and engage in other activities that require clear vision.With the help of low vision aids, people can maintain their independence and continue to participate in daily activities, such as cooking, shopping, etc. that might otherwise be challenging.
- Enhanced contrast: Many low vision aids are designed to enhance contrast, making it easier to distinguish between objects and colors. This can be particularly helpful for those who have difficulty with color perception.By providing support and enhancing vision, low vision aids could reduce frustration and anxiety for individuals with Stargardt illness as well, as enable them to engage in enjoyable activities.
- Some low vision E-glasses with fully enveloping designs can lessen the effect of outside or external light sources on vision, which can assist withreading or viewing objects up close or far away. Zoomax Acsight VR is one such powerful device. Low-vision E-glasses Acesight VR adopts virtual reality technology to improve vision by offering up to 16x magnification and a larger field of view (65-degree FOV). Moreover, for Stargardt patients who also have color perception or a blind spot in the center of their vision, color mode and narrow display of Acesight VR make everything more visible and easier to read.
4. How to Choose Low Vision Aids for Stargardt Disease
Low vision aids come in a wide variety, ranging from basic magnifiers to cutting-edge wearable technologies. With so many different types of low-vision aids available, it can be challenging to choose the right one. Here are some tips to help you choose the best visual aids for Stargardt disease:
- Consult with a low-vision specialist. A low- vision specialist is a professional who specializes in helping people with visual impairments to maximize their remaining vision. Theywill recommend you the low vision aids which are best suited to your requirements and give you instructions on how to use them correctly.
- Take into account your specific needs. Everyone’svisual needs are different, so it’s essential to consider what you need from a low vision aid. For instance, a portable or handheld electronic video magnifier may be useful if you have trouble reading. Low vision E-glasses, including AR or VR low vision eyewear, may be more beneficial if you have trouble distance viewing and want to free up your hands as well. Zoomax offers a wide range of items for those with visual impairment. Portable equipments like the Luna 6, Luna 8, and Luna S are lightweight and convenient to carry around. Desktop video magnifier Luna HD 24 Pro is perfect for using at home or in the office, as it performs perfectly when you read and write. Zoomax Snow 12 is a portable device that can be used with or without the foldable stand, which makes it perfect for any situation.
- Choose a comfortable and ergonomic device. Many low vision devices are designed to be worn or held for extended periods, so it’s essential to choose a device that is comfortable to use. Look for devices with ergonomic designs that fit comfortably in your hand or around your head, and consider the weight of the device.For example, besides providing Stargardt disease sufferers visual support, the portable electronic device Zoomax Luna 6 is equipped with a built-in handle and can be charged wirelessly, which adds to its user-friendliness by allowing for more variation in movement and handles the magnifier better, and improves the efficiency of charging operation as well.
- Test before purchasing. It’s critical to try out low-vision aids to determine whether they are effective for you before making a purchase. Several low-vision distributors or stores provide free trials or demonstrations of various devices, allowing you to try them out before buying. You will undoubtedly find the ideal low-vision device for you if you experiment before making your decision.