Although age-related macular degeneration generally occurs in older individuals, other forms of the disease can affect children, adolescents, and young adults. Known as macular dystrophies, many are inherited conditions in which symptoms occur early in life. While there are differences in the symptoms and severity of vision loss, macular dystrophies cause a reduction in central vision (straight-ahead vision).

Fuch's Corneal Dystrophy

An eye disease that progresses slowly, Fuch's dystrophy usually affects the corneas of both eyes. Although the disease doesn't normally affect a person's vision until he or she is over age 50, eye doctors often are able to spot early symptoms of the disease in patients who are younger. Swelling, the result of a buildup of fluid in the cornea, causes cloudy vision and glare. More common in women than in men, cornea transplant surgery is required to restore lost vision.

Vitelliform Macular Dystrophy

Vitelliform macular dystrophy, also known as Best disease, affects the macula, which is located in the center of the retina in the back of the eyes. Eye diseases that affect the macula cause distorted and/or decreased vision. Although this inherited eye disease is often diagnosed during childhood or adolescence – usually between the ages of 3 and 15 – vision loss may not occur for many years. The condition doesn't usually affect a person's peripheral vision, nor does it always affect both eyes to the same degree.

Sorsby's Macular Dystrophy

Sorsby's macular dystrophy, often referred to as Sorsby's fundus dystrophy or cystoid macular degeneration, is another hereditary eye disease that affects the central macula and impairs vision. Symptoms of the disorder usually begin sometime between 20 and 40 years old. This rare eye disorder is progressive and may cause night blindness before leading to a loss of central vision. Sorsby's macular dystrophy can eventually affect peripheral vision.

Retinal Cone Dystrophies

Cone dystrophies are serious eye disorders that cause central vision loss. Although symptoms of stationary cone dystrophy are present at birth or in early childhood, they tend to remain stable over time. The symptoms of progressive cone dystrophy slowly get worse and may include extreme sensitivity to light and a loss of color vision in addition to reduced visual acuity. Eventually, a person experiences peripheral vision loss and night blindness.

There currently is no treatment available to restore vision or stop the progression of this form of the disease. Treatment generally focuses on treating complications and helping individuals cope with losing their vision. While some forms of this rare eye disorder are genetic, others occur spontaneously with no known cause.

For more information, contact Malkani Retina Center or a similar location.