Stargardts disease is a juvenile form of macular degeneration that occurs in children and young adults. Stargardts affects approximately 1 in 10,000 people in the United States. Marla began experiencing vision loss at age nine when she was unable to see the chalkboard in school. Her vision gradually deteriorated to 20/200 in both eyes, however local optometrists were unable to figure out the cause of Marla's failing vision. A year later, and following two misdiagnoses, Marla was finally diagnosed with Stargardts by a retina specialist.
Symptoms of Stargardts include a loss of visual acuity and central blind spots or scotomas. While there are different forms of the condition, Stargardts progresses until central vision is lost while peripheral vision remains intact. Color vision and night vision may also be affected. Marla has been legally blind since childhood and has spent the majority of her adult life with 20/400 visual acuity. Because vision loss associated with Stargardts is the result of a retinal deterioration, vision cannot be corrected with glasses or contacts.
My perception of my blindness is more important than my visual acuity; I perceive my vision loss as a challenge to overcome....through problem solving, hard work, and pure determination. I always believed I could do anything if I worked hard enough....I just had to prove it to everyone else.
- Marla Runyan