Can A Younger Person Have Macular Degeneration?

Yes, although questions remain as to whether this is truly age-related macular degeneration or simply another form of macular degeneration. Younger patients can develop drusen and pigment changes characteristic of those seen in older patients with the diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration. Debate exists as to whether or not this is the same disease as age-related macular degeneration or a different disease entirely.

These macular changes would still be termed macular degeneration, as it does involve a degeneration of the macula; however, when seen in younger patients, it obviously is not age-related. The appearance of drusen in younger patients has been termed familial or hereditary drusen, but their absolute risk of progression to advanced stages of macular degeneration is not yet known. Other variants of macular degeneration may exist in younger patients and merit careful evalua-tion and follow-up by an ophthalmologist.