SUBRETINAL DRUSENOID DEPOSIT IN AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION: Histologic Insights Into Initiation, Progression to Atrophy, and Imaging

Academic Article


  • PURPOSE: To clarify the role of subretinal drusenoid deposits (SDD; pseudodrusen) in the progression of age-related macular degeneration through high-resolution histology. METHODS: In 33 eyes of 32 donors (early age-related macular degeneration, n = 15; geographic atrophy, n = 9; neovascular age-related macular degeneration, n = 7; unremarkable, n = 2), and 2 eyes of 2 donors with in vivo multimodal imaging including optical coherence tomography, examples of SDD contacting photoreceptors were assessed. RESULTS: Subretinal drusenoid deposits were granular extracellular deposits at the apical retinal pigment epithelium (RPE); the smallest were 4-┬Ám wide. Outer segment (OS) fragments and RPE organelles appeared in some larger deposits. A continuum of photoreceptor degeneration included OS disruption, intrusion into inner segments, and disturbance of neurosensory retina. In a transition to outer retinal atrophy, SDD appeared to shrink, OS disappeared, inner segment shortened, and the outer nuclear layer thinned and became gliotic. Stage 1 SDD on optical coherence tomography correlated with displaced OS. Confluent and disintegrating Stage 2 to 3 SDD on optical coherence tomography and dot pseudodrusen by color fundus photography correlated with confluent deposits and ectopic RPE. CONCLUSION: Subretinal drusenoid deposits may start at the RPE as granular, extracellular deposits. Photoreceptor OS, RPE organelles, and cell bodies may appear in some advanced deposits. A progression to atrophy associated with deposit diminution was confirmed. Findings support a biogenesis hypothesis of outer retinal lipid cycling.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Chen L; Messinger JD; Zhang Y; Spaide RF; Freund KB; Curcio CA
  • Start Page

  • 618
  • End Page

  • 631
  • Volume

  • 40
  • Issue

  • 4