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Hello and thanks for your question. Unfortunately, and as you might surmise, with such limited information (through no fault of your own--your mother is 2000 miles away and you only know what she took away from that appointment with the doctor) I am at a very significant disadvantage when it comes to being able to diagnose with is happening with your mother's retina.
However, I can tell you that at her age, macular degeneration is one of the most common reasons why someone might make such a comment. If there is leaking/bleeding in the retina from wet macular degeneration, it may cause such swelling in and behind the retina so as to give the appearance of a mass, or cause mass effect in the retina. Wet macular degeneration is one of the most common reasons for a referral to a retinal specialist. Because this can permanently take the central vision away, I think it is most important that your mother follows through with this and sees the retinal specialist as soon as possible.
Now can other things cause the appearance of a mass in the retina? Sure--but they are much less common and I would merely be speculating about what they could be. In other words, telling you about all of these causes would essentially amount to giving you a list of several things which would only scare you, but not help you or I figure out what this was. Suffice it to say, any of those reasons would require a visit to a retinal specialist and would carry with it the urgency of time frame that we have already discussed.
To know that wet macular degeneration is the most likely cause based on her age (and not knowing anything else about her or her medical/oculary history or symptoms), I think this is the most logical and likely conclusion.
If you would like a further discussion of macular degeneration, please see this link http://www.oregoneyedoctor.net/macular-degeneration/
Does this make sense? Does this information help address your concerns? Do you have any other concerns or questions about this topic?
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My opinion is solely informative and does not constitute a formal medical opinion or recommendation. For a formal medical opinion and/or recommendation you must see an eye doctor. Thanks for your inquiry!
Would this still be considered macular deg. if her eyesight isn't being affected?
If there is something in the retina causing a "mass" appearance and her vision is not affected, it's unlikely this is wet macular degeneration.