Huff Post Impact Blog
As many of you know, I was born with a progressive eye disease, Starghardt's or Juvenile Macular Degeneration. This condition is very rare and vision loss occurs at varying points in the lives of those affected. For me, I began losing my vision around second grade and have had what seems like on/off cycles of vision loss ever since. The condition results from the absence of a key enzyme that clears a toxic byproduct of sunlight from the eye. Because this toxin accumulates on the macula, the cells die and scar tissue forms and those areas become non-functioning. The macula is responsible for central vision, which is also our clearer/precise vision. Peripheral vision is spared, which allows for retaining a wide visual field. As the condition progresses, cell damage reaches the outer border of the macula and therefore decreases the breadth of the visual field. The gene responsible for this condition and its mode of transport are now known but as anyone that has it will tell you, the path of destruction is mysterious and the explanation of its destruction is nearly impossible.