Wet vs. Dry Macular Degeneration: Key Differences
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive disease that affects the macula, the portion of the retina responsible for clear central vision. A healthy macula allows us to read, recognize faces, detect colors, drive and do other day-to-day activities.
Although there is no cure for AMD, Dr. Gregory Johnson and Dr. Gail Kelley of Intracoastal Eye believe it is crucial to understand this common disease and how it progresses. One of the first things to understand about AMD is that there are two types: wet and dry.
Dry Macular Degeneration
Dry AMD is the earlier and more common form of the disease. About 85 to 90 percent of cases of AMD are classified as dry.
In dry AMD, the macula’s cells atrophy and the layers of the macula thin. Consequently, the macula’s function starts to deteriorate. Tiny yellow deposits called drusen appear on the retina, contributing to the atrophy of the macula.
At this stage of the disease, vision may still be normal, or central vision may appear blurry and blank spots can appear in the center of the visual field. Peripheral or side vision is usually not affected.
Dry AMD usually progresses very slowly. Some cases of dry AMD advance to the wet form over time.
Managing dry AMD involves making certain lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and not smoking. Taking nutritional supplements with the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) formula has been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of dry AMD advancing to the wet form.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Wet AMD is the more serious form of the disease. Only 10 to 15 percent of AMD cases are wet AMD; however, 90 percent of people that lose vision to AMD have the wet form.
Wet AMD is characterized by the leakage of fluids from the blood vessels. New, abnormal blood vessels form under the retina and macula, leaking blood and other fluids. This leakage can cause the macula to lift or pull away from its normal position on the retina.
In wet AMD, visual impairment is often more severe. Dark spots develop in the center of the visual field and straight lines may appear wavy.
Managing wet AMD involves stopping the development and leaking of abnormal blood vessels. This can be accomplished by injecting anti-growth substances directly into the eye or with laser treatment.
Our Team Can Help
At Intracoastal Eye, we have extensive experience with both wet and dry AMD. If you have been diagnosed with AMD or are experiencing symptoms of the disease, we can help. Contact us today and request a consultation.