Morphologic changes in age-related maculopathy

Microsc Res Tech. 1997 Jan 15;36(2):106-22. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0029(19970115)36:2<106::AID-JEMT4>3.0.CO;2-N.


Age-related maculopathy (ARM) is a degenerative disorder of the central part of the retina with a rising prevalence in patients 50 years of age and older, and comprises different histopathological changes. The morphologic changes in ARM are described and illustrated with light-microscopical, electron microscopical, and fundus pictures. Furthermore, the most important biochemical data are given. The most prominent aging changes in early stages of ARM are drusen and basal laminar deposit (BLD), both extracellular deposits, that are assumed to be important in the development of ARM. Drusen accumulate within Bruch's membrane, whereas BLD is present between Bruch's membrane and the retinal pigment epithelium. Although the histopathologic characteristics of the deposits are well documented, the chemical composition has only been partly resolved. Biochemical analysis of these deposits is necessary to determine the source of the deposits and to find possible ways to avoid or treat them. The late stages of ARM, geographic atrophy, and neovascular (disciform) degeneration, are called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and result in severe and irreversible visual impairment. Since there is still no adequate therapy for the majority of people disabled by AMD, and because of the aging population resulting in even more patients with this disease, it is necessary to intensify the research on ARM in order to prevent AMD or find a therapy for it.

MeSH terms

  • Basement Membrane / pathology
  • Basement Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Bruch Membrane / pathology
  • Bruch Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / metabolism
  • Macular Degeneration / pathology*
  • Macular Degeneration / therapy
  • Microscopy
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / cytology
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / ultrastructure*
  • Retinal Drusen / pathology