Stargardt

Stargardt disease is an inherited disorder of the retina – the tissue at the back of the eye that senses light. The disease typically causes vision loss during childhood or adolescence, although in some forms, vision loss may not be noticed until later in adulthood. It is rare for people with the disease to become completely blind. For most people, vision loss progresses slowly over time to 20/200 or worse. (Normal vision is 20/20).

Stargardt disease is also called Stargardt macular dystrophy, juvenile macular degeneration (JMD), or fundus flavimaculatus. The disease causes progressive damage—or degeneration—of the macula, which is a small area in the center of the retina that is responsible for sharp, straight-ahead vision. Stargardt disease is one of several genetic disorders that cause Macular Degeneration. Experts estimate that 1 in 8-10 thousand people have Stargardt disease.

What are the symptoms of Stargardt disease?

The most common symptom of Stargardt disease is variable, often slow loss of central vision in both eyes. People with the disease might notice gray, black, or hazy spots in the center of their vision, or that it takes longer than usual for their eyes to adjust when moving from light to dark environments. Their eyes may be more sensitive to bright light. Some people also develop color blindness later in the disease.

The progression of symptoms in Stargardt disease is different for each person. People with an earlier onset of disease tend to have more rapid vision loss. Vision loss may decrease slowly at first, and then worsen rapidly until it levels off. Most people with Stargardt disease will end up with 20/200 vision or worse. People with Stargardt disease may also begin to lose some of their peripheral (side) vision as they get older.

What causes Stargardt disease?

The retina contains light-sensing cells called photoreceptors. There are two types of photoreceptors: rods and cones. Together, rod and cones detect light and convert it into electrical signals, which are then “seen” by the brain. Rods are found in the outer retina and help us see in dim and dark lighting. Cones are found in the macula and help us see fine visual detail and color. Both cones and rods die away in Stargardt disease, but for unclear reasons, cones are more strongly affected in most cases.

You may have heard about the importance of vitamin A-rich foods in maintaining healthy vision. That’s because vitamin A is needed to make key light-sensitive molecules inside photoreceptors. Unfortunately, this manufacturing process can lead to harmful vitamin A byproducts—which turn out to play a key role in Stargardt disease.

How is Stargardt disease treated?

Currently, there is no treatment for Stargardt disease. Some ophthalmologists encourage people with Stargardt disease to wear dark glasses and hats when out in bright light to reduce the buildup of lipofuscin. Cigarette smoking and second hand smoke should be avoided. Animal studies suggest that high-dose vitamin A may increase lipofuscin accumulation and potentially accelerate vision loss. Therefore, supplements containing more than the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A should be avoided, or taken only under a doctor’s supervision. There is no need to worry about getting too much vitamin A through food.

The Energetic Vision Stargardt Protocol

In Chinese medical theory the ability of the eyes to see things and to distinguish colors is one of nature’s true miracles. Being an extremely important part of the human body’s ability to relate to the world, the eyes have a close relationship with the Qi, blood, fluids, vessels and all organ systems.  All of these connections allow the Qi to flow upward from the organs to allow the eyes to see.  Within Chinese medical theory the function of sight is completely attributed to healthy function of the internal organs.  Any type of dysfunction of the related organs will restrict the Essential Qi from reaching the eyes resulting in declining vision.  For example, there are 6 possible patterns and treatment principles for degenerative vision loss in the Liver organ alone and well over 100 different possibilities in the entire organ system.  This is why at Energetic Vision we spend an hour with you before we begin treatment to determine what vessels are affected and determine a course of therapy that is based on your individual imbalances.

The Energetic Vision Stargardt protocol is a proactive, comprehensive treatment program for enhancing and managing vision and overall health. It is applicable for most types of retinal disease as well as glaucoma and iritis (uveitis).  The standard beginning protocol is intensive and involves 10 total acupuncture treatments that are to be completed within a one week timeframe. Each acupuncture session lasts about 30 minutes and clients usually do 2-3 treatments per day with an hour in-between.

Included with your treatment are 2 sets of eye tests that help us document your results along the way. We first test at your intake session and again after ten sessions. The eye tests performed in the clinic include: contrast sensitivity, color field, near and far acuity and Amsler grid. It is required that you have a thorough eye exam from your ophthalmologist within three months prior to starting the treatments.  This report and your health history are to be submitted one week prior to the start of treatments.

Within the Stargardt protocol, we will take an in depth look at many likely factors that can influence vision including: overall health, nutrition, supplements, household toxins, personal care products, stress, dental history, emotions and exercise. Addressing these issues is essential to helping the acupuncture succeed.  Depending on the severity of your eye condition, follow-up treatments are mandatory to maintain vision gains. Some clients may choose to do monthly maintenance sessions after their first two sessions, while others may visit the clinic every quarter or even annually. Each person responds differently and will require a unique, flexible continuing care plan. 

Acupuncture cannot cure your eye disease, but in most cases it can substantially improve it and your quality of life. There are four stages of health for the nerve cells in the retina and optic nerve: 1. Normal or healthy; 2. Dormant; 3. Damaged or sick and 4. Death.  The treatment protocol attempts to stimulate and wake up the dormant cells and restore them to function while helping to heal and rejuvenate the damaged/sick cells.  It also seems to protect the healthy cells from further deterioration.  This treatment does not have a 100{c68bf756b33312f06872e8bd4150c576eaf33060712a7963b1c244043614e939} success rate but 80{c68bf756b33312f06872e8bd4150c576eaf33060712a7963b1c244043614e939} of patients report positive results.

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