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How Stargardt Disease Cause Low Vision and How We Can Help

Does your child or teenager complain of blurry vision? Have they mentioned dark spots when they look at a computer screen or when reading a book? Maybe they’re having trouble seeing colors or it’s hard for them to recognize familiar faces? If this sounds familiar, your child could have a condition called Stargardt Disease.

What Is Stargardt Disease?

Stargardt Disease is an inherited form of Macular Degeneration. In fact, it’s often referred to as Juvenile Macular Degeneration. It is a congenital disease affecting children and adolescents, often beginning in kids between 6-12 years old, although it’s usually present at birth.

Stargardt causes gradual vision loss. Over time, it can deteriorate to the point of legal blindness. Our young patients struggle with central vision, distinguishing colors, reading comprehension, and seeing clearly in environments that have dim lighting.

child with Stargardt DiseaseWhat Causes Stargardt Disease?

Like Macular Degeneration, patients with Stargardt have a damaged macula. Since the macula is responsible for passing light that enters your eye onto the retina, when the macula is impaired, a patient’s vision becomes impaired, too.

Stargardt Disease is inherited genetically, so if both parents have Macular Degeneration, it’s possible that their child will have it, too. According to Dr. Shaun Golemba, patients with a family history of Macular Degeneration should getting checked as soon as possible. Early detection is essential for the most effective treatment.

Treatment for Stargardt Disease

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for Stargardt Disease. However, low vision glasses and devices have shown success in helping patients with the condition experience improved visual clarity. Handheld magnifiers and telescopic lenses can enlarge images or objects, allowing you to see what you’re looking at in more detail. Some low vision devices are small enough to fit on top of glasses, especially helpful for driving lessons, computer work, or using a smartphone.

Handheld devices can magnify words, so your child can have an easier time reading, writing, or studying.

How Does Stargardt Disease Cause Low Vision?

A damaged macula disrupts healthy vision by interrupting the flow of light passing through the eye to the brain. When this happens, the brain cannot understand what the eyes see. Stargardt results in a loss of central vision with symptoms like blurry or wavy vision, blind spots, sensitivity to light, and difficulty seeing colors and contrast. The condition causes a rapid reduction in visual acuity before leveling off.

Any loss of vision can be difficult to experience, but for kids and young adults, it can feel emotionally devastating. We understand what your child is going through, and we’ll give them the tools they need to maximize their vision, so they can get back to enjoying life.

How We Can Help with Stargardt Disease

Stargardt Disease can make it difficult for children to do homework, play sports, get their license and more. At the Low Vision Center At Valley Vision Optometry, our goal is to help your child succeed in school, extracurricular activities, and in life.

Come see Dr. Shaun Golemba, who, by providing low vision aids, devices or glasses, can help enhance your child’s vision so that they can focus on learning and doing the things they love.

 

When Does Stargardt Disease Start?

In many cases, Stargardt Disease makes itself known in early childhood. In others, it may present itself later in the 20s of young adulthood. Whenever your child shows symptoms and however it affects them, we can help.

A Better Quality of Life for Your Child

Contact Dr. Shaun Golemba. Together with the knowledgeable, caring staff at the Low Vision Center At Valley Vision Optometry, we’ll help your child experience improved vision and a better quality of life.

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We are currently offering in-office care by appointment only.

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COVID-19 UPDATE

The following is a summary of the steps we have taken to protect your safety.

Physical Distancing Measures:

o Reducing density of people: We have adopted a schedule which will reduce the amount of patients in our facility at one time.

o We will have some of our team working from home operating a call centre and tele-medicine pre-screening.

o Spacing stickers have been placed on our floor.

Engineering controls:

o Forms have been digitized and will be emailed to patients in advance of the appointment to minimize contact.

o A “For Payment" button has been installed on our website, valleyvisionoptometry.ca for patients to be able to pay from home to minimize contact.

o Plexiglass barriers have been installed at all 3 Front Desk stations

o Our doors will remain locked during Phase 2, opening the door to let in scheduled patients only.

o A dropbox has been installed for patients to drop off glasses in need of repair.

o Contact lens sales are administered through our webstore.

Administrative controls:

o Cleaning protocols have been written. Staff training on these protocols has been scheduled.

o Clear rules are posted on our front door and throughout all of the stations in our office.

Personal protective equipment:

o Patients will be required to wear a mask upon entry to the office and throughout their time with us. Those who do not have a mask will be supplied a surgical mask upon entry.

Policies around sickness:

o Employees and patients with cold or flu symptoms will be required to stay home.

Frequent hand washing:

o Patients, Doctors, and our Team will be required to wash hands upon entry and exit in to the exam rooms.

o Eyewear Consultants will wear gloves when handling eyewear and performing adjustments.

We currently are operating a reduced schedule, so are triaging patients to ensure those with the highest needs are prioritized.

Sincerely,

Dr. Shaun Golemba

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As of May 19th, we have re-opened by appointment only. Our current hours are Monday to Friday, 8am – 4pm. Please call our office to schedule an appointment. Read about our safety protocols here.