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.

How Do I Know if I Have Macular Degeneration?

Eye health goes far beyond how well one sees. What an eye doctor concerns themselves with is how long a person can see well. There are a handful of eye diseases that can affect this. Macular degeneration is one of them. Fortunately, this condition can be diagnosed early when comprehensive eye exams are the norm. Early detection is achieved via several specific tests, which we’ll outline here.

Screening for Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration occurs at the very back of the eye. The macula is the center of the retina. The retina is the small piece of tissue that transfers rays of light through the optic nerve to the brain. To evaluate the retina and macula, the ophthalmologist must dilate the eye. Dilation does not hurt. It is achieved with eye drops that make the pupils larger. The observation of the retina through dilated pupils may show a mottled appearance that indicates changes in pigment in the macula. Drusen, tiny yellow-colored deposits beneath the retina, may also be observed during the dilated eye exam. Additional tests include:

Amsler Grid

This may seem like a vision test but it is a screening for the function of the macula. During the Amsler grid test, the patient looks at a dot in the center of the grid. One eye is tested at a time. The non-tested eye is covered with a hand or small paddle. When observing the grid, the patient notes areas where there are blank spots, blurred or wavy lines, or other visual abnormalities.


This screening is achieved by reflecting light into the eye, which passes through to the retina. An ophthalmoscope is a special instrument that consists of a light and tips of varying sizes that direct the light through a central hole. This illuminates the retina and surrounding tissue.

Fluorescein Angiography

Fluorescein, as it sounds uses the power of fluorescence to evaluate the retina. This test injects a special dye into the bloodstream, then photographs the eye to observe how the blood is circulating through the tiny vessels near the retina. This test can identify if blood vessels are leaking.

Optical Coherence Tomography

This brief imaging screening takes 5 to 10 minutes per eye. It can capture images of all of the structures at the back of the eye, including the optic nerve, macula, and retina. OCT can detect areas of the retina in which atrophy is occurring. A thinning retina is a sign of macular degeneration.


This test is conducted to measure how much pressure exists in the eye. Some degree of pressure is necessary; it keeps the retina and other structures stable. High pressure is dangerous to the optic nerve. It can press on this part of the eye, causing irreparable damage. Tonometry is not painful and may be done without dilation. It may involve a quick burst of air directed at the eye.

VitreoRetinal Surgery, PLLC has several offices in Minnesota. To locate an office near you, call (800) VRS-2500.

What are The Risks for Macular Disease?

It has been estimated that approximately 11 million people live with age-related macular degeneration. This is only one of several macular diseases. Each of them can lead to vision loss. It is important to know what macular disease and what your risk factors may be because outside of that and routine eye exams, it is not easy to spot the early warning signs of damage to the macula. At Vitreo Retinal Surgery facilities, our experienced team offers comprehensive screenings for macular diseases. Here, we discuss details regarding risk factors and how you may protect your eyes.

Macular Diseases

The macula is the central aspect of the retina, a part of the back of the eye. When light enters the eye, it focuses on the retina. It is then transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve. Some of the conditions that can affect this part of the eye include:

  • Diabetic macular edema
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Macular puckering
  • Macular holes
  • Retinal vein occlusion

Each of these macular diseases may present uniquely. However, damage to the macula typically causes symptoms such as reduced night and central vision, visual distortions such as floaters, and blurriness.

Risk Factors for Macular Diseases

Family history, genetics, and age are some of the strongest risk factors for macular conditions. However, other factors also contribute. For example, studies show that smoking increases the risk of damage to the macula. This may be because smoking can cause vascular problems and the eyes are reliant on numerous tiny blood vessels. Additionally, a diet that is high in salt, sugar, or fat may increase the risk of macular diseases. Unhealthy eating habits are associated with diabetes, and diabetes is a contributing factor for several eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy. Finally, surgery or an eye injury may affect the vitreous, the fluid center of the eye. If the vitreous shrinks from an injury, it can tug on the back of the eye, leading to macular pucker or macular holes.

If you want to know more about your risk for macular disease, contact us. One of our experienced retina specialists can perform a comprehensive exam to help you better understand your eye health. Call (800) VRS-2500 to contact one of our conveniently located offices in Minnesota.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration Minneapolis MN

Can Supplements Really Help Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

A diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration can be troubling. Although there are more than 200,000 new diagnoses each year, scientific research has not yet found a way to cure the progressive loss of vision. That is not to say there has been no progress in the management of this condition that thins the macula.


Every health food store offers a plethora of supplements specifically formulated to support eye health. Taking “eye vitamins” may sound like a good idea for a person who wants to reduce their risk of developing age-related eye conditions like nearsightedness or farsightedness; but can supplementation help you if you are at risk of a more serious eye disease like AMD? Furthermore, what if you’ve already been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration and have noticed signs of diminished vision?

What Scientific Research Has to Say

Several years ago, researchers collaborated on the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). This original body of research found that individuals with age-related macular degeneration may be able to slow the progression of vision loss by supplementing a healthy diet with a combination of particular ingredients, including:

  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Beta-carotene
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E

According to findings, researchers suggested that supplementation may reduce the worsening of AMD by as much as 25 percent.

In 2013, a second study (AREDS2) tested varying combinations of the original ingredient list. Three additional ingredients were also observed for therapeutic value. These included omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Omega 3s are found in fish, while lutein and zeaxanthin are plant-based nutrients.

The findings of this follow-up study confirmed that the initial list of ingredients provides substantial value to patients with age-related macular degeneration. The primary merits of the new supplement formulation include improved safety related to lowered dosing of zinc and beta-carotene.

Quality Counts

No prescription is necessary to obtain an AREDS2 formula or any other supplement intended for eye health. However, quality counts. That is why we recommend products made by Focus Vision Supplements, a nutraceutical company formed by hundreds of ophthalmologists who share an interest in utilizing the latest scientific breakthroughs to improve supplementation for ocular disease.

Schedule a Consultation

Vitreo Retinal Surgery, PA has several offices throughout Minnesota. Schedule a consultation with us at (800) VRS-2500.

A Look at the Progression of AMD | VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA | Minneapolis MN

A Look at the Progression of AMD

A Look at the Progression of AMD | VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA | Minneapolis MNAge-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is attributed to thousands of instances of low vision and blindness. This eye disease typically occurs later in life and involves the central part of the retina. It is understandable that any person diagnosed with macular degeneration, wet or dry, would feel a great deal of concern. Part of our role as retinal specialists is to diagnose and manage age-related macular degeneration. Another aspect of personal care, one that is no less important, is our support of patients who are in need of ongoing information. One of the questions that patients may have about this condition is how fast it will progress. We’re going to touch on that here.

Rate of Progression Can Depend on the Type of AMD

Wet macular degeneration is the more severe if the two types. This condition involves blood and fluid leakage from cells that grow beneath the retina. The progression of dry AMD is slower and usually, does not cause as extensive vision loss as does wet AMD.

Progression of AMD Risk Factors

Research suggests that smoking significantly increases the risk of macular degeneration. This is because caustic chemicals in cigarettes can damage blood vessels. Free radicals are also more challenging to fight when the body is also cleansing out toxins from cigarette products. This is a risk factor that one can control. Since hereditary factors are uncontrollable, healthy lifestyle habits such as eating foods rich in antioxidants can help offset them.

Early Diagnosis is Key

Ideally, macular degeneration is a condition that can be diagnosed early. When we can identify the early warning signs of this condition, patients have the best possible opportunity to respond to treatment. There is no cure for AMD, therefore only therapeutic treatment can help preserve eyesight for the greatest length of time. Yearly eye exams become even more important as adults reach the age of 60, but should begin much earlier.

Schedule a Consultation

Vitreo Retinal Surgery has multiple offices in Minnesota, including St. Paul and Minneapolis. Call (800) VRS-2500 for more information on age-related macular degeneration.

Don’t Be Part of A Vision Loss Statistic

eye care MinneapolisYou may not have even noticed, but if you’re around 50 years old, you could be suffering from the most frequent cause of vision loss for those 50 and over: age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD does have symptoms, but you might not see them

Many people who have AMD may not have noticed that their vision is deteriorating. The disease can particularly go unnoticed if it is only affecting one eye.

Another obstacle to noticing AMD

Many people assume their vision loss issues are simply a natural and inevitable part of aging. AMD symptoms are more serious and can be recognized if you know what to look for. Patients with certain types of AMD can benefit from recent developments in treatment if diagnosed early. This is also why it’s important to see your eye doctor annually for vision checks.

Call for an appointment today (800-VRS-2500), especially if you have any of these symptoms:

  • A blurry area near the center of your vision that may be increasing
  • Blank spots in center of your vision
  • Things not appearing as bright as they normally do

AMD’s two classifications: dry and wet

Dry AMD doesn’t usually cause severe vision loss

  • It’s characterized by the accumulation of small yellow deposits underneath the retina.
  • It can cause severe vision loss if central atrophy develops.
  • An eye doctor should closely monitor patients with dry AMD, as it may progress to wet AMD.

Wet AMD accounts for approximately 90% of severe vision loss due to the disease

  • It’s characterized by the presence of abnormal new blood growth underneath the retina.
  • The main symptoms are worsening central vision, blind spots, and distorted vision.

There are ways to manage progression and preserve vision

Presently, there is no strategy for reducing the risk of developing dry AMD and no treatment to reverse the condition. However, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study did show that vitamins might help visual atrophy from progressing from intermediate to severe. And wet AMD has several treatments that can help keep the condition stable over the long term.

Schedule a consultation

If you are interested in age-related macular degeneration, please call 800-VRS-2500 to schedule a consultation at one of our locations in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Blaine, Edina, Oakdale, Plymouth, St. Cloud and Duluth.







VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA | Understanding Macular Degeneration Minneapolis MN

Understanding macular degeneration

VitreoRetinal Surgery, PA | Understanding Macular Degeneration Minneapolis MNAge related macular degeneration (AMD) is a primary reason for vision loss in people over 50 years of age. It causes damage to the macula, or central portion of the retina, that controls the eye’s ability to see everything that is straight ahead in our line of vision.

The early and middle stages of AMD usually occur without causing any signs or symptoms. For some people, it advances slowly and actual vision loss doesn’t occur for a long time. For others, the disease progresses more quickly and may lead to vision loss in one or both eyes. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect the disease.

Macular degeneration doesn’t cause total blindness
The loss of central vision, however, typically interferes with the vision necessary to complete everyday tasks, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, write or do close-up tasks.

Symptoms of AMD

  • Blurry area near center of vision that may increase
  • Blank spots in center of vision
  • Objects not appearing as bright as they used to

Age is a major risk factor for AMD, but there are others
The disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but can strike at an earlier age. In addition:

  • Smoking doubles your risk
  • The disease is more common for Caucasians
  • People with a family history of the disease are also at higher risk

Lifestyle choices matter, too
Research has discovered links between AMD and some lifestyle choices, indicating you may be able to reduce your risk or slow progression.

  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain normal blood pressure
  • Maintain normal cholesterol level
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a nutritious diet (lots of green, leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish)
  • Wear sunglasses with UV & Blue Light protection
  • Don’t smoke

Do everything you can to prevent Macular Degeneration
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that everyone have a dilated eye exam at least every two to three years between the ages of 45 and 60, and every year after 60. Call for your appointment today: (800) VRS-2500.