Adult vitelliform macular degeneration: a clinicopathological study

Eye (Lond). 2003 Aug;17(6):717-26. doi: 10.1038/sj.eye.6700460.


Aims/background: The yellow lesions of adult vitelliform macular degeneration (AVMD) slowly fade, progressing to hyperpigmentation or atrophy. This study aims to provide further observations on the location and nature of the vitelliform material.

Methods: This report describes the clinicopathological correlation of four eyes with AVMD. A retrospective histopathological study of a further 526 aged eyes previously graded for the stage of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) found another 10 eyes with similar pathology.

Results: The predominant finding was a collection of extracellular material beneath the sensory retina at the fovea. This material was derived internally from photoreceptor outer segments and externally from the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), the latter first undergoing hypertrophy and then disruption and attenuation. Fallout of foveal cones occurred over these lesions and the inner retina was thinned, which may explain macular hole formation in this condition. All affected eyes showed histopathological evidence of AMD.

Conclusions: This study confirms that the vitelliform lesions of AVMD lie beneath the sensory retina. In contrast to previous reports, however, it is proposed that the lesions comprise mainly extracellular material consisting of photoreceptor debris, possibly the result of faulty phagocytosis by the RPE, mixed with pigment liberated as the RPE undergoes disruption. The vitelliform lesions therefore are a marker for the area of maximal RPE disturbance.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Artifacts
  • Fovea Centralis / ultrastructure*
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / pathology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / ultrastructure
  • Pigmentation Disorders / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies