Stargardt Disease: When an Old Person’s Vision Problems Occur in Kids

In 1901, a German ophthalmologist named Karl Stargardt reported the first case of macular degeneration in a child.
Today, we know this is very rare in children. Approximately one in 20,000 kids have this vision-threatening condition that is named for the ophthalmologist—Stargardt disease.

The onset of this disease usually manifests in young people between the ages of six and 20 years of age. Typically, the patient develops difficulty with reading and adjusting to bright light. It’s caused by a mutated gene, ABCA4, and is passed on from both parents. Although, it’s interesting to note that not all offspring will develop Stargardt disease. In fact, they only have a 25% chance of inheriting it.

There is no cure for Stargardt, but its progression can be slowed by treatments that are similar to those used to treat wet macular degeneration.

Nutrition and wearing sunglasses in bright light are also methods of controlling the progression. It must be noted, however, that while vitamin A is usually a “good” vitamin for eye health, for people with Stargardt, it can be toxic because it can’t be metabolized by cells within the eye.

To learn more about an ongoing clinical trial for a new medication to treat Stargardt disease, click here.

If you are living with this rare eye disorder, and would like information, or help, contact the American Macular Degeneration Foundation.

American Macular Degeneration Foundation
P.O. Box 515
Northampton, MA 01061-0515
413.268.7660 or Contact: 1-888-MACULAR (1-888-622-8527)


Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn is passionate about raising awareness of rare diseases and disorders and helping people connect with the resources that may ease their journey. Erica has been a caregiver, and is a patient, herself, so she completely relates to the rare disease community--on a deeply personal level.

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