Eye Atlas—Retinal Drusen
This is the retina of a 78-year-old female. You will notice multiple tiny dots in the center of the photograph. These dots are called drusen. Drusen are thought to be an accumulation of waste products. The mechanism that triggers drusen formation is unknown.
Drusen are a sign of a retinal abnormality and may lead to atrophy of the overlying retina. Atrophy of the retina is known as macular degeneration. Drusen are often an early sign of macular degeneration. The course of macular degeneration is highly variable. There may be very little progression or the condition may become severe.
This particular patient had excellent vision. However, patients with retinal drusen are at risk for the development of macular degeneration. An excellent long-term study called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) determined that a specific formulation of vitamins can help slow the progression of macular degeneration in patients with signs such as drusen. Therefore, this patient was advised to begin taking vitamins consisting of the recommended AREDS formulation.