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Stargardt’s Disease – Natural Treatment Methods

Stargardt’s disease is a condition that is inherited and causes central vision loss, or macular degeneration, in juveniles. It affects both male and females in equal numbers, and it is estimated that one in 10,000 people inherit this disease.

It is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait, which is a severe form of macular degeneration that starts late in childhood. Stargardt’s disease turns into macular degeneration, and it will eventually lead to legal blindness. This is different from macular degeneration found in older people, as it does not generally lead to blindness. Stargardt’s disease was first diagnosed in 1901 by Karl Stargardt, a German ophthalmologist. It is one of several early onset, inherited macular degeneration diseases.

It wasn’t until 1997 that researchers began to understand this condition. Researchers uncovered the silent mutation gene called ABCA4, the gene that controls how vitamin A flows in and out of the central part of the eye, the retina.

While vitamin A is normally good for the health of the eye, if it builds up in one area of the eye it can become toxic. When a person has Stargardt’s Disease, this is exactly what happens. Vitamin A builds-up in the retina and causes the progressive damage that ends up in partial blindness.

Stargardt’s Eye Disease

Stargardt's Eye DiseaseUsually Stargardt’s Disease is diagnosed in children and young adults under the age of twenty. This is when the loss of central vision is noticed. The individuals usually start out with excellent vision, but begin to have difficulty with reading and seeing clearly when lights are dim.

They also experience blurriness of vision and sometimes they have distorted vision. Children with Stargardt’s Disease generally start having problems and noticing a loss of central vision between the ages of six and twelve years, though it is not uncommon for the symptoms to appear when individuals are young adults.

Loss of vision starts slowly until vision reduces to 20/40 levels. The progression downward is rapid until the 20/200 vision level, which is classified as legally blind, is reached.

Some vision can deteriorate to 10/200 in a matter of months. Most people will not lose peripheral or night vision, but often color vision is lost in the later stages of the disease.

There are several tests that are performed to diagnose Stargardt’s disease.

  • A visual Acuity Test will test for vision clarity by having the patient read letters from a chart at a certain distance. A person with normal visual acuity has 20/20 vision, and a person with 20/40 vision sees at a distance of 20 feet what normal vision sees at 40 feet.
  • Color testing can spot the condition as people will lose color vision in the late stages.
  • Visual Field testing determines a person’s field of vision, and the loss of vision in the central area of the eye is indicative of Stargardt’s.

Stargardt’s Disease Treatment

Stargardt’s disease is often not diagnosed, or is misdiagnosed when it begins, partially due to the lack of evidence that can be pinpointed during a routine eye exam. Most physicians do not test for the Stargardt’s Disease gene during routine examinations, and the actual ABCA4 gene was only discovered recently.

While there is no effective cure for the disease, the genetic discovery may speed research, along with the planned Advance Cell Technology study approved in 2010 by the FDA which will allow the injection of human embryonic stem cells into the eyes of people affected with the disease.

Research to date has shown that bright light seems to trigger damage to the retina in people with the condition, so wearing sunglasses or eyeglasses that protect against UV rays are recommended.

Stargardt’s Disease Natural Treatment

Though there are no know cures to date for Stargardt’s Disease, a study in 2008 showed that people with Stargardt’s Disease should avoid all foods that are rich in vitamin A, since the excessive vitamin A is cause of vision loss.

There are other natural therapies such as microcurrent stimulation which re-stimulate and energize dormant cells in the eye and boost the eye cells ability to get rid of waste products that interfere with nutrients. The devise also is supposed to increase the supply of blood to the eye. It is an actual machine that can be purchased or leased, as it is expensive.

Hyperbaric Oxygen treatments use high-pressure oxygen which aids in the healing of diseased or damaged tissue. Oxygen is essential to healing, and is thought to be beneficial to eye diseases; although many patients have a very negative reaction to this treatment.

Syntonic Light therapy deals with the application of light frequencies through the eyes. Specific wavelengths of light help detoxify the eye and stimulate retinal function.

Other natural therapies include nutritional support of vitamins and minerals that support eye health. Leading a healthy lifestyle of eating fresh foods, limiting bad fats, avoiding excessive salt and sugar, and exercising daily will keep the body in good health, and support good eye health.

Visual Field Tests are performed on each patient to better understand the patient’s vision limitations. The printed pattern identifies the areas affected by Stargardt’s Disease.

Dark colors represent seriously limited vision, yellow being the highest, represent clear vision.

Visual field test represents the positive progression after only two weeks of Micro Acupuncture therapy
The above visual field test represents the positive progression after only two weeks of Micro Acupuncture therapy.

At Three Treasures Clinic we treat the whole being with dietary supplementation and we treat particularly the eyes with Micro Acupuncture.