What is retinal drusen?

Drusen

Drusen are yellowish white deposits that build up beneath the retina. They are a normal result of aging but can also occur with eye disease, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

In people who have AMD, the tiny drusen grow together, form larger deposits, and harden. They can interfere with the normal function of the retina. Most people with drusen have no symptoms. Visual symptoms that happen along with drusen are typically a sign that AMD is developing.

It is important that people who have drusen regularly see an ophthalmologist to monitor changes and to handle complications.

How are retinal drusen treated?

There is no treatment for drusen, but it is important to see an eye doctor for regular eye exams. Be sure to follow the schedule for your exams.

Your doctor will do tests to check for symptoms of AMD. In the "wet" form of AMD, vision changes happen quickly and can be severe. So it's important to find it and treat it early.

What are retinal drusen?

Retinal drusen (say "DROO-zun") are tiny yellow spots that build up under the retina in your eye. They are made up of proteins and fatty substances (lipids). The retina is the nerve layer at the back of the eye that sends images to your brain.

There are two kinds of drusen. "Hard" drusen are small, have defined edges, and are far from each other. "Soft" drusen are larger, have less defined edges, and cluster together.

Drusen don't cause symptoms. An eye doctor (ophthalmologist) may find them during a dilated eye exam. For this test, eyedrops are used to widen (dilate) your pupils. This makes it easier to see the back of the eye.

Drusen can be a normal part of aging. Many people older than 60 have them.

But drusen may be an early sign of an eye disease called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This disease damages the part of the retina that lets you focus on what is in front of you. It causes blurring of your central vision.

Retinal drusen: When to call

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have vision changes.

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