What’s the Difference Between Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration?

There are two types of age-related macular degeneration (AMD): dry (atrophic) and wet (neovascular or exudative). In most cases of AMD, the condition begins as dry and progresses to the wet type. Although the condition occurs in both eyes, it does not have to progress at the same rate. It’s possible to have dry AMD in one eye and wet AMD in the other.

Let’s take a closer look at what dry and wet AMD are and what can be done for treatment.

Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The dry type affects 80 to 90 percent of individuals with AMD, and its exact cause is not known. However, it’s believed that a number of factors can put you at an increased risk, such as your genetic background, gender, race and age.

The most common signs of dry AMD are:

● Visual distortions
● Reduced central vision
● Need for brighter light
● Difficulty adapting to low light
● Decreased intensity of colors

With dry AMD, there is a degeneration of the layer of retinal pigment epithelial cells in the macula. An eye specialist is able to diagnose dry AMD because of the yellow deposits that form within the macula and also the thinning of the macula.

Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The wet type affects 10 to 15 percent of individuals with AMD. As the AMD worsens, it causes abnormal blood vessels under the retina to grow closer to the macula. Since these blood vessels are abnormal, they tend to bleed and leak fluid, which are the characteristic signs of wet AMD.

When the blood vessels act up, they damage the macula and cause it to lift up, pulling away from its base. This is what causes a rapid loss of central vision in wet AMD patients.

What Treatments are Available?

If you suspect that you have dry AMD or have already been diagnosed by your eye doctor, it’s imperative that you work with a qualified eye specialist who understands how to care for and treat AMD. Without proper care, the condition can worsen and lead to vision loss.

For patients with dry AMD, the best steps to take are preventative. Certain lifestyle choices can slow down AMD by as much as 25 percent! These include:

● Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
● Eat fish twice a week
● Exercise at least three times a week
● Protect your eyes from sunlight
● Ask your doctor about supplements (i.e., zinc)
● Avoid packaged foods and artificial fats

If your condition progresses into wet AMD, there are treatment options available, and more are being developed. The purpose is to close off the blood vessels and prevent them from growing back using laser technology and injections. The treatments are needed regularly, however, so talk to your eye specialist about the course of treatment that will be best for you.

For quality care that will last a lifetime, schedule an appointment with Empire Retina at 718-646-2025. We are your retina specialists.