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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What are drusen?

Drusen are yellow deposits that are found under the retina in one or both eyes. The retina is the part of the eye that captures light and sends information to the brain. You may have hard or soft drusen. Hard drusen are small, and they are located far apart from each other. Hard drusen may not cause vision problems at all, or they may not cause problems for a long time. Soft drusen may cluster close together and form large deposits. Soft drusen increases your risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is an eye disease that occurs with aging.

What causes drusen?

Drusen develop naturally with age. They are most commonly found in people older than 50 years of age. Drusen may be caused by the buildup of waste products produced in the cells of the eye.

What are the signs and symptoms of drusen, and how are they diagnosed?

There are usually no signs and symptoms of drusen. If you have soft drusen, you may have some signs and symptoms of AMD. Over time, untreated AMD may cause blurred or distorted vision, or trouble seeing when you go from bright light to low light. You may also have a blurry or blind spot in the center of your vision.

How are drusen treated?

You do not need treatment if you have hard drusen. Hard drusen may develop into soft drusen. You will need to have regular eye exams to have the drusen checked. Your healthcare provider may recommend the following:

  • Do not smoke. Smoking increases your risk for AMD. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can also cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • High-dose vitamin and mineral supplements may help slow down the development of AMD if you have soft drusen. These supplements include vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper. Tell your healthcare provider if you smoke. Your healthcare provider may tell you not to take beta-carotene supplements if you smoke.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You see a blurry or blind spot in the center of your vision.
  • You have blurred or distorted vision, such as seeing straight lines as wavy lines.
  • Your eyes have trouble adjusting from bright light to low light.
  • Your vision worsens.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.