Conservative Radio Host Glenn Beck Diagnosed with Macular Dystrophy
Radio and television news host Glenn Beck has learned that he has a relatively rare eye disorder that could cause blindness within one year. Beck made the announcement Saturday before a crowd of 6,000 people on his “American Revival” tour in Salt Lake City.
Beck, who hosts his self titled show on Fox News and a nationally syndicated radio program, said that he went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago because of the inability to focus his eyes.
Macular dystrophy is the name given to describe a problem in the appearance of the central part of the retina, called the macula. There are three types of eye conditions that affect the macula:
• Eye conditions in which only the macula is affected. This includes eye conditions called Progressive Cone Dystrophy and Stargardt's Disease.
• Eye conditions in which the macula is affected as well as all other parts of the retina. This includes eye conditions called Rod-Cone Dystrophy and Vitelliform Dystrophy.
• Eye conditions that are only one part of a condition that affects the whole body. This includes conditions such as Batten's disease.
Vitelliform macular dystrophy is an uncommon genetic eye disorder that causes a progressive loss of vision, particular sharp central vision needed for detailed tasks such as reading, driving and recognizing faces. The childhood, early-onset form is known as Best disease, but there is also an adult-onset form that typically begins in mid-adulthood.
Two genes have been found to be responsible for the development of the disease. BEST1 mutations are responsible for Best disease primarily. Changes in the PRPH2 usually cause the adult-onset form. The condition was first identified in 1905.
Sight loss can be variable, but often follows five identifiable steps. At first and second stages, there may be little or no effect on sight. At the second stage (usually between 10-25 years of age), a fatty yellow pigment (lipofuscin), sometimes accompanied by material leaking into a space by the retina, can be observed. This is often called an "egg-yolk" lesion.
When part of the lesion becomes absorbed, this is identified as stage three. Even at this stage there may be little affect on vision. At the fourth stage, when the "egg-yolk" breaks up, in a process referred to as "scrambled-egg", sight will probably be affected.
The fifth and final stage is when the condition causes the most severe sight loss.
There is no current effect treatment for vitelliform macular dystrophy.