At this time there is no treatment available for Stargardt disease. However, researchers are studying gene and drug therapies. One promising study involves delivering a healthy version of the gene that causes Stargardt disease, ABCA4, into retinal cells to restore production of the normal protein. Your ophthalmologist may discuss the option of testing your blood for mutations in this gene. Another study aims to replace the cells that live under the retina, the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, using stem cell therapy. Other approaches aim to develop drugs that can reduce the buildup of lipofuscin, which is responsible for vision loss in people with Stargardt disease.
Researchers have also found that exposure to excessive amounts of light may cause further retinal damage. Therefore, it is essential that people with Stargardt disease wear sunglasses with UV protection and a hat with a wide brim. It is also recommended that patients with Stargardt disease avoid taking supplemental vitamins containing more than the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, since large amounts of vitamin A may make the disease progress faster.
Visual aids and adaptations around the home and at work, and training from social services can help those with Stargardt disease. It may also be important that people with Stargardt disease visit a genetic counselor who can discuss disease inheritance and help with family planning, career choices and other issues related to living with the condition.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.