Until she was 13, Maddie Perkins had no problems with her vision and lived a completely normal life. In 2011, when a vigilant optician at Boots carried out a routine eye check, she noticed that Maddie had unusual markings on her retinas. An opthamologist subsequently diagnosed Maddie as suffering from Stargardts disease.
In essence, Stargardts is similar to the macular degeneration that affects elderly people. It occurs in individuals who inherit the recessive gene from both their parents. Peculiarly, the onset of Stargardts occurs either when children are around 12 years old or when young adults are around 22 years old. Stargardts sufferers lose their central vision which means that they can use only their peripheral vision to carry out basic tasks such as reading or looking at objects that are more than a short distance away. Its effects cannot currently be reversed. Like one of the 6,000 children and young adults in the UK that suffer from Stargardts, Maddie’s eye sight deteriorated irreversibly over the course of the following 4 years. The photos in our gallery show Maddie and an image of what the typical visual impairment suffered by someone with Stargart's. Experts believe that the deterioration in her eye sight is now starting to slow down. Most Stargardts sufferers adapt really well - just as Maddie has done. Although it is really tiring for her to read and pick up what is being taught in class, Maddie has recently done really well in her GCSEs and is very stoic about her future. She accepts what has happened and that she just needs to do the very best that she can.
The pioneering research that is being carried out by Fight for Sight is starting to reveal why the disease occurs. There is potential for stem cell research to make a substantial difference to those children and young adults who are unlucky enough to have been given these recessive genes. One day it should be possible for sufferers to be able to do more than just accept their fate and get on with things.
We hope that by raising sufficient funds for this research to continue we can bring forward the time when these brave individuals can have a chance of having their eye sight restored and thereby living a fully normal life again. What would be even better still, is if in future children didn’t have to lose their sight in the first place. This is why we are running our MarathonforMaddie. Please support us however you can. If you can't give money come and shout for us as we run the course for Fight for Sight.
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