Ask You Eye Doctor This Question

Ask You Eye Doctor This Question

Posted on May.05, 2011, by , under Low Vision Tips

Macular Degeneration, Low Vision? Ask your eye doctor this question.

It is possible that your eye doctor can detect early signs of macular degeneration before you notice any vision changes.   During your next eye exam ask your eye doctor if he/she sees any drusen. Macular drusen look like little round pebbles that are made up of  yellow matter that lie beneath the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) in the macula. They are actually made up of “trash” or waste products that have built up beneath the RPE.  This “trash” prevents the efficient transportation of nutrients to the cone cells and likewise prevents the elimination of waste products.

The number, size and type of drusen play a significant role in the prognosis or progression of macular degeneration. Here is what you want to know about your eyes:

1. Do I have any drusen?
Find out if it they are found in one eye or both eyes

2. How many drusen?
Generally speaking, the more drusen the worse the prognosis according to Dr. James C. Folk the author of Protect Your Sight.  The more drusen a person has the less cone cells there are or the less cone cells that are working well.

3. What size are they?
The size of the drusen helps to determine the diagnosis of macular degeneration. If a person has only small drusen or a few medium size drusen they may or may not have macular degeneration. However, Dr. James Folk writes,” An eye with more than a few medium size drusen or one large drusen has dry macular degeneration.”

4. What kind of macular drusen?
There are two kinds of macular drusen – hard and soft.  Hard drusen are the less harmful form. They are characterized by round shape, distinct, well defined borders,and are quite small. Commonly seen in those 40 and older they become more common as we age. They are not necessarily an indication of macular degeneration. However they may develop into the soft kind.

Soft macular drusen is considered to be an early indicator of macular degeneration, although some people with this type do not develop macular degeneration.  The soft form is characterized by ill-defined borders, variation in size and shape , pale yellow color and larger than the hard form.  This kind is more associated with vision loss.

If you have macular degeneration or a family history of macular degeneration it is especially important to know if you are forming these deposits and if so what kind and how many you have.  To learn more about other eye tests that help determine a diagnosis of macular degeneration or the progression of this retinal disease go to