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What is the difference between drusen and exudates and how are they distinguished in fundus photos (special photos taken during eye exam)?
On initial observation, drusen (yellow fatty deposits that form under the retina) and exudates (another type of fat that can appear under the retina) do appear similar. However, to the experienced observer the differences in terms of diagnosis and treatment implications are readily apparent.
Drusen occur beneath the retina and are usually, but not always, a sign of age-related macular degeneration (breakdown of tissues in the back of the eye). Exudates typically are within, or immediately under, the retina and typically associated with problems in the retinal blood vessels. Imaging tests such as fundus photographs and optical coherence tomography will distinguish between the two conditions.
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