subretinal drusenoid deposits

High-Risk Cardiovascular Disease Associated With Blindness-Causing Eye Disease

Patients with subretinal drusenoid deposits (SDDs)—a specific form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD)—are at high risk for cardiovascular and neurovascular diseases, according to a new study.

A major form of AMD—the leading cause of blindness in people aged 65 and older—consists of small yellow cholesterol deposits (drusen) that form under the retinal pigment epithelium, which is a part of the retina. 

The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study that included participants aged 51 to 100 years with AMD (n = 200). The goal of the study was to determine an association between SSDs and high-risk vascular diseases. Participants were asked to complete questionnaires on their health history, where they identified past high-risk cardiovascular events (cardiac valve defect, myocardial defect, and stroke/transient ischemic attack).

Using retinal imaging, the researchers found that 97 patients had SSDs and 103 had drusen only. Of the 200 total patients, 47 individuals had reported experiencing severe heart disease. Further, 40 individuals with severe heart disease had SDDs. Comparatively, 153 patients with AMD reported not having a severe cardiovascular disease, and only 57 were found to have SDDs.

“The SDDs may be related to inadequate ocular perfusion resulting from the systemic vasculopathies,” the researchers concluded. “Further research with this paradigm is warranted and might reduce mortality and morbidity from vascular disease.”


—Jessica Ganga


Ledesma-Gil G, Otero-Marquez O, Alauddin S, et al. Subretinal drusenoid deposits are strongly associated with coexistent high-risk vascular diseases. BMJ Open Ophthalmol. Published online November 17, 2022. doi:10.1136/bmjophth-2022-001154