How I See with Stargardt disease

Post date: 
Monday, 21 May 2018

“How did you get it?”, “Can you get stronger glasses?”, “Is everything blurry?” These are just a handful of questions Keith Ruston’s asked about living with a sight condition. Here, Keith explains what it’s actually like living with Stargardt’s. 

Whether I’m holding a piece of paper right up to my face or sitting inches away from my computer monitor and still using the magnification, it’s pretty obvious I have a visual impairment. I started losing my vision and was diagnosed with Stargardt disease around age 17 years old. 

What is Stargardt’s? 

Stargardt disease is an inherited form of macular degeneration. The macula is the central region of your retina. As the name implies, macular degeneration is the deterioration of the macula, causing central vision loss. 
Stargardt’s doesn’t make a person totally blind. Vision usually deteriorates to visual acuity of around 20/200, which is legally blind, and 20/800. The rate of vision loss varies, but can be as quick as just a few months to go from 20/20 to 20/400.

Can stronger glasses help?

I wish!  Eyes are like an old film camera. The cornea of the eye is the lens, it focuses on the image and lets in just the right amount of light so the image isn’t too bright or dark. The retina is the film of the camera, it captures the actual image for processing. If your lens (or cornea) is defective and you can no longer focus properly, you can fix it with a new lens (glasses or contacts). If your film is damaged (retina), it doesn’t matter how good of a lens you have, your image isn’t going to come out clearly. Since Stargardt’s affects the retina, there’s currently nothing that can be done. 
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