What Are Drusen?

Drusen are yellow deposits under the retina. Drusen are made up of lipids, a fatty protein. Drusen likely do not cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  But having drusen increases a person’s risk of developing AMD.

There are different kinds of drusen. “Hard” drusen are small, distinct and far away from one another. This type of drusen may not cause vision problems for a long time, if at all.

“Soft” drusen are large and cluster closer together. Their edges are not as clearly defined as hard drusen. This soft type of drusen increases the risk for AMD.

Drusen of the optic nerve

Drusen can also occur in the optic nerve. These drusen are made up of protein and calcium salts and generally appear in both eyes. Unlike the drusen associated with AMD, optic nerve drusen (also known as optic disc drusen) are not related to aging and often appear in children. Optic nerve drusen usually do not affect vision, but some patients with these drusen may lose peripheral (side) vision.