What are Macular Drusen

What are Macular Drusen

Posted under Eye Conditions

What are Macular Drusen

What are Macular Drusen?

If you have been diagnosed with macular degeneration  (AMD) you probably have heard your eye specialist mention something about seeing some drusen during your eye exam.  In fact the development of these yellow deposits are they first signs of AMD.  Some people have them even before they notice any changes in their vision. Macular drusen are yellow deposits that develop between the retinal pigment epithelium and the choroid layer – the layer of blood vessels that supply nutrients to the macula.

There are many factors that lead to the development of AMD, but one of them is the inability of the macula to get rid of waste products or to get oxygen rich nutrients from the underlying tissue.  Drusen can contribute to the clogging up of this transport system. The photoreceptor cells, the rods and cones, require lots of oxygen and when they don’t receive enough of it, they begin to degenerate or die. The macula is made up of predominantly cone cells . Cone cells are responsible for our color vision, central vision and our detailed our sharp vision. As these cone cells die, colors are less vivid, detailed or sharp vision becomes blurry, and our straight ahead or central vision gets cloudy.

Types of Drusen

There are two types of drusen – hard and soft. It is important to know which ones you have. Hard drusen are small and round with very sharp borders. These well defined deposits are light yellow and thought to be less harmful.  They become more common with age and may or may not indicate the early development of age related macular degeneration.

Soft drusen are different . They are larger with less defined borders. They vary in size and shape. When your eye doctor sees soft drusen during an eye exam there is more cause for concern. These deposits are thought to be more harmful because they interfere with waste products getting removed from the macula and rich oxygen getting to the macula.  People who have soft drusen will often have more vision changes than those who have only hard drusen.  They may find that they need more light to see bills, to read or perform hobbies. A smudge or blurry spot may appear in the center of their vision.

Questions for Your Eye Doctor

The next time you go for an eye exam ask your doctor about the drusen in your eyes.
Find out :
1.  Do I have any drusen?
2.  If so what kind of drusen do I have?
3.  What size are they and how many large or medium size ones do you see?

The number, size and type of drusen help to define what stage of macular degeneration the person has. To learn more about the stages of macular degeneration and to see a picture of macular drusen go to:

Macular Drusen Picture and Stages of Macular Degeneration

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN

Better Health for Better Vision