I got told I have Drusen or Macular Degeneration what does that mean?
Updated: Nov 7
To understand Macular Degeneration let us first explain what the macula is. The macula is a small area of the retina. The area is responsible for our central vision/crispest vision. The fovea is part of the macula and is the only spot in the retina responsible for seeing 20/20.
The second part of Macular Degeneration is Degeneration and that is where the disease comes in. When the macular area is degrading vision starts to decrease. There are two types of Macular Degeneration wet and dry. Macular Degeneration always starts out as Dry macular degeneration and then can develop into two types from there one is wet macular degeneration or turn into geographic atrophy Macular Degeneration is just a form of dry macular degeneration that is more severe. The exact cause of Macular Degeneration is still a mystery but there is a lot of information on the disease we do know. The risk factor for Macular Degeneration is Hyperopia (farsightedness), white ethnicity, history of smoking, and family history of macular degeneration. Hyperopia (farsightedness) is when you see better in the distance than you then up close. Farsightedness is normally caused by your eye being too short for the power of your eye. This is where UV light comes into play as one of the theories as to why someone could develop Macular Degeneration. The UV light because it has less area to travel in the eye so more UV light gets to the retina and it can damage the retina. This is where the treatment of AREDS II and lutein and zeaxanthin come in. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the pigment of the macula and absorbs UV light. So fortifying that area with more lutein and zeaxanthin to help protect that area. You can get lutein and zeaxanthin from your green leafy vegetables or from multivitamins. What exactly happens in Macular degeneration when it first happens is the formation of Drusen. Drusen is a build-up of waste material in the eye. It happens on the Bruch's membrane in the eye. This is like the transport area for nutrients for the inner part of the eye and it gets clogged up.
On the image C the drusen is yellow parts in the center of the fovea and image D it is the bumps on the yellow/red part of the image also known Retina Pigment Epithelium (layer of the retina) and Bruch's membrane (transport membrane). Below that part is the choroid vasculature which supplies nutrients to the inner part of the retina. When this Drusen forms it increases the risk of macular degeneration happening. That is because when Drusen form we clogged up the nutrient channel and inflammation starts occurring and then macular degeneration occurs. Why it becomes wet macular Degeneration is because there is so much inflammation and retina calling for nutrients and when it does that it creates new blood vessels and that is when it becomes wet macular degeneration. These new blood vessels are leaky and cause bleeding across the whole retina and blood as you probably know is not transparent and decrease vision dramatically. This is when you need to see a retinal specialist for treatment.
At Eyecare Redefined we retinal autofluorescence which can help detect wet macular degeneration by helping to diagnose a new blood vessel compared to the blood vessels you were born with.