Excess intake of Vitamin A can lead to a rare eye disease, called Stargardt disease

The health problems caused by the lack of Vitamin A are well known. Not so well known is that excess of Vitamin A can also cause problems.

Excess Vitamin A in the body can lead to Stargardt disease. Its a condition characterised by progressive macular degeneration that leads to blindness. Stargardt disease affects about one in 10,000 people. It is different from the macular degeneration seen in elderly people.

Stargardt disease is caused by an inherited disorder. In this disorder, Vitamin A collects in the eye and turns toxic. The damage is progressive and leads to partial or complete blindness. Frequent eye check-ups are recommended for children.

Signs & prevention

Signs of Stargardt disease set in from an early age. It starts causing vision loss from childhood. In some cases, the signs can be seen during adolescence. It results in macular dystrophy and degeneration of the eye muscles.

Early detection is the only way to save a patient’s sight. However, the signs are often misunderstood by parents. They think that their child’s vision is getting affected because of over-use of mobile phones, computers, or because of watching too much television.

Signs of Stargardt disease are loss of central vision in both eyes, formation of hazy spots in one’s field of vision, increased sensitivity to bright lights and colour blindness.

Children and adolescents diagnosed with the disease are asked to wear dark glasses when they step out into bright light. They are also asked to include more fish, green leafy vegetables and nuts in their diet.

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