Association of Drusen Phenotype in Age-Related Macular Degeneration from Human Eye-Bank Eyes to Disease Stage and Cause of Death

Fukutaro Mano, Nicholas Sprehe, Timothy W. Olsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To stage maculopathy, assess and quantify drusen, determine drusen subtype frequency, and compare subtypes with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) stage and cause of death using an eye-bank model of AMD. Design: Cross-sectional study. Participants: Two thousand ninety-two human eyes from 1067 eye-bank donors, selected from a population at risk for AMD. Methods: We analyzed donor eye tissue images (2005–2020) using both the 4- and 9-step Minnesota Grading System (MGS), an AMD grading system for eye-bank eyes corresponding to the Age-Related Eye Disease Study classification. The 9-step MGS quantifies total drusen area, hyperpigmentation, and depigmentation. We analyzed reticular pseudodrusen (RPD), basal laminar drusen (BLD), and calcified drusen (CaD) frequency within this population and explored associations with AMD stage, donor age, gender, and cause of death. Statistical analyses were performed using Wilcoxon rank-sum and chi-square tests. Testing encompassed staging eye-bank eyes using MGS analysis. Main Outcome Measures: Drusen subtype frequency associations with AMD stage and cause of death. Results: We detected RPD in 228 (13%), BLD in 131 (7%), and CaD in 84 (5%) of the examined eyes (n = 1777). All subtypes were associated with advanced AMD (RPD: odds ratio [OR], 3.4 [95% confidence interval (CI), 2.5–4.5; P < 0.0001]; BLD: OR, 2.2 [95% CI, 1.5–3.2; P < 0.0001]; and CaD: OR, 39.1 [95% CI, 16.8–91.0; P < 0.0001]). Only the RPD subtype was associated statistically with cardiovascular death when compared with those without cardiovascular death (48% vs. 32%; OR, 2.0 [95% CI, 1.4–2.9]; P = 0.0002). Conclusions: In a large group of eye-bank eyes selected from a population at risk for AMD and graded using the 4-step and 9-step MGS, RPD, BLD, and especially CaD were associated strongly with advanced AMD. The RPD subtype was associated with a cardiovascular cause of death and may represent an ophthalmologic biomarker for cardiovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-749
Number of pages7
JournalOphthalmology Retina
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Basal laminar drusen
  • calcified drusen
  • reticular pseudodrusen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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