Case Study: Helping A Young Lady With Stargardt Disease Get Her Life Back

As members of the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists (IALVS), we strive to help patients make the most of their vision no matter their level of vision loss from eye diseases such as glaucoma, Stargardt disease, and diabetic retinopathy. We are proud to help maintain their independence and live their best life utilizing the many low vision aids we have at our disposal. These include telescope, microscope, prism and filter glasses, and other types of  magnification devices. Want to get an idea of how we can help? Find out below how one of our fellow IALVS-member eye doctors, Dr. Harold Ashcraft, was able to help his patient with Stargardt disease overcome her vision loss and get her life back on track.

What is Stargardt Disease, and How Did it Affect Our Patient?

Stargardt disease, also commonly known as juvenile macular degeneration, is an inherited eye condition in which the small part of the patient’s retina responsible for detail and central vision, known as the macula, is damaged. This condition can be present at birth or may develop as the patient grows up and goes to school or even when they’re in their 20s. It’s also progressive, causing blurry or blind spots in the center of the patient’s  vision that grow over time, potentially affecting both distance and near vision. Stargardt disease may cause a reduction in color vision, and photophobia, a sensitivity to light. This can interfere with many daily activities, including learning in school or participating in sports, reading, writing, and driving.

In the case of Dr. Ashcraft’s patient, Stargardt disease was affecting her in several ways:

Driving: She was in her early 20s and was concerned she would not pass her upcoming driver’s test to renew her license. This could be catastrophic, impacting her ability to continue university studies and get to and from work daily.

Reading issues: To be able to read a text, the patient had to hold it up very close to her face. Though this worked in the short term, it quickly led to fatigue and eye strain, impacting her ability to concentrate and complete tasks that required focus, such as studying for school or working on a computer.

Severe light sensitivity: Though she had tried different tints, types, and colors of sunglasses to help her deal with light more effectively, she had never really found a pair that did what she needed it to do for her.

How Dr. Ashcraft Helped His Patient Get Her Life Back

As it was her primary concern, Dr. Ashcraft first addressed the issues affecting the patient’s ability to drive. She had already been driving successfully using bioptic lenses but felt they weren’t helping her as much as they once had. Dr. Ashcraft found that this was because the patient’s prescription was outdated. Once he corrected her prescription, her driving vision improved enough to allow her to drive confidently and pass her driving test.

For her reading issues, Dr. Ashcraft was able to prescribe a special type of glasses that allowed her to hold books and other texts close for reading while also minimizing the strain on the eyes from turning inward and over-focusing. This allowed her to study and work for longer periods without discomfort.

They tried several lens colors and tints to address the light sensitivity issue, including plum, ambers, yellows, and many other colors and darkness levels, until they found the right sunglasses.

Ultimately, the patient was very impressed and happy with the care and attentiveness she received at Dr. Ashcraft’s eye clinic.

Life After Vision Loss 

Dr. Ashcraft’s efforts to help his patient continue to live her life on her terms illustrates the level of commitment IALVS doctors around the country show every day to live our motto: “IALVS believes that there is life after vision loss.” Visit our IALVS doctor directory today to find a dedicated low vision specialist near you.