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Age-related Macular Degeneration: Retinal Drusen

Retinal drusen

These discrete orange blobs in the foveal region signify death of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). In time they may become more numerous.

Although drusen arise as hereditary degenerations in young people, their most common cause is age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), an idiopathic condition of the elderly. If the drusen become confluent in the macula, visual acuity will fall, but rarely below 20/40. There is no treatment.

In a small percentage of patients with ARMD, new blood vessels will grow from the choroid into the submacular retina, and bleed. This bleeding distorts the photoreceptors and causes blurred and warped vision ("metamorphopsia").

What to do?
Patients are instructed to report to their ophthalmologist immediately if they notice sudden development of warped or blurred vision because these symptoms signal submacular bleeding.

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