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Stargardt Disease-Its Causes And Treatment Stargardt disease which is also known as juvenile macular degeneration and sometimes juvenile macular dystrophy is a disorder that usually affects persons between ages 6 years old and 20 years old. This disease can cause blurry vision, appearance of black or grey spots in the patient’s central vision, light sensitivity, damage of central vision, excessive glare and part blindness to juveniles. The symptoms for this disease were first acknowledged by Stargardt, in the year 1901. Statistically speaking, it is estimated that today 1 in about 10,000 young people are affected by Stargardt disease. There was no medication for Stargardt disease until recently. Nevertheless, there has been some improvement and so far there is hope for better.
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So what, therefore, causes Stargardt disease?
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Visual problems suffered by Stargardt disease patients are caused by macular degeneration. Macula is a centrally placed part of the retina and is crowded with light sensitive features. Macula is, therefore, is the part of eye responsible for allowing humans to focus and acquire precision of sight when looking forward. As per research, it has been discovered that juvenile macular degeneration leads to accumulation of unusual deposits below a special protective layer in the retina called RPE. As the unusual deposits accumulate they subsequently lead to dysfunction of the RPE layer in retina. RPE layer is located somewhere between the retinal receptors and vascular layers. The function of RPE layer is to keep healthy light receptors and allow nutrients and energy to flow from blood vessels to the light receptors. The free flow of energy and nutrients will be disrupted when the unusual deposits begin to form. Interruption of free flow causes damage and subsequent dysfunction of light receptors which leads to loss of central vision. The disorder has not had any form of treatment, until recently. In the wake of recent improvement in stem cell research, scientists have been able to regenerate plentiful amounts of RPE layer cells. In addition, surgery can now be conducted to graft RPE layer cells and replace dysfunctional cells damaged by unwanted deposits. Nevertheless, surgical replacement option of RPE layer cells is still under trials in several clinics to establish whether it can successfully provide a lasting solution to a patient’s central vision. That being the medical position so far, stem based macular degeneration has been able to offer the much needed hope to Stargardt disease patients, something that has been elusive for years even as recently as a decade ago. It is however, recommended that children suffering from this ailment should be under regular supervision and care of an Ophthalmologist.

Writen by Bradford Todd