Drusen: A Strange Ophthalmic Word that You Should Know

One of the most important aspects of patient care is clear communication. We understand that ophthalmic terms are unfamiliar to most people other than those trained in our field. We also understand that, when an aspect of health is not understood, necessary steps to manage conditions may not be taken. Here, we discuss the term “drusen” that you may hear your ophthalmologist say. What is it, and why should you know?

Understanding Drusen

Drusen is a German word with the rough translation of “rocks.” Used in ophthalmology, it refers to yellowish deposits of extracellular waste that accumulate under the retina. The retina is a small piece of light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. When drusen form here, they may not be noticed right away except for during a dilated eye exam.

When small and few, drusen are generally benign. If the amount or size of these deposits increases, the risk of dry age-related macular degeneration develops. Age-related macular degeneration, AMD, is a leading cause of vision loss. It is characterized by the progressive degeneration of the macula, the central part of the retina. The macula is what forms detailed, sharp central vision. As the cells degenerate and die, blurry or blank spots may form or central vision may become generally hazy. The transition from bright to dim lighting may be difficult, and straight lines may start to appear wavy.

What if My Doctor Finds Drusen in My Eyes?

If your dilated eye exam detects small drusen beneath the retina, your doctor may recommend close monitoring via periodic exams. You may be advised to come back more frequently so your eye doctor can see if the drusen are multiplying or enlarging. If your eye exam identifies larger drusen, your doctor may order an Amsler grid or other additional tests to screen for age-related macular degeneration. If AMD is diagnosed, your doctor may recommend a supplement such as AREDS2. Supplementation cannot cure AMD, but it may prevent dry AMD from progressing to the more serious “wet” type of age-related macular degeneration.

VitreoRetinal Surgery, PLLC. offers advanced care for the various stages of age-related macular degeneration. The earlier care begins, the better chance there is of preserving vision. To learn more about our services, call (800) VRS-2500 to locate an office near you.