Yes, that’s right, the first optician I visited as a teenager suggested I was simply messing around and had no vision problems. In the weeks and months preceding the appointment, I had difficulties reading writing on the whiteboard at school. My parents booked an appointment at a local optician after I mentioned the issue with my vision. I still remember the appointment, the optician tried various lenses – none of them improved my vision – and they concluded that I was simply messing around and that my eyesight was fine. Luckily, my parents thought this was unlikely and booked an appointment at a different optician. This second appointment was the beginning of my journey with Stargardt Disease.
The diagnosis of Stargardt Disease was made relatively quickly. The second optician I visited noticed something wasn’t right with my eyesight and carried out additional tests, including viewing the back of my eyes. This prompted a referral to a local hospital who carried out further tests and made the initial diagnosis. I was then referred to specialist units at nearby hospitals for further tests and examinations. All diagnosis was quick, it took a lot longer for the full magnitude of the diagnosis to sink in.
Luckily for me, my parents were persistent, and I received a quick diagnosis. Unfortunately, this may not be the case for everyone; I recall reading a news story about a young boy whose diagnosis of Stargardt Disease was delayed because an optician concluded his eyesight was fine. It’s understandable as the disorder is rare, so the likelihood of an optician having first-hand experience of Stargardt’s is also rare. Part of the reason why I wanted to start this blog was to raise awareness of Stargardt Disease. I hope this is one way that I can help others out there.