Dry vs. Wet Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD, has no cure. However, it is important to learn about this eye condition since it is one of the leading causes of vision loss in America. Macular degeneration affects more people than glaucoma and cataracts combined.


Most people with this eye condition do not notice any loss of vision until the late stages. Thus, it is important to get comprehensive eye exams regularly to protect your eyes and vision. Early detection of eye and vision problems leads to early treatment. You can slow the progression of AMD if you detect it early.


What Is Macular Degeneration?


Macular degeneration, or AMD, is a term used to describe several eye conditions that affect the retina. It leads to a gradual loss of central vision, affecting one’s ability to recognize faces, contrast, and color. It can also affect one’s ability to read, write, drive, and perform other normal activities.


This eye condition causes blurred central vision, resulting from damage to the small area at the back of the eye known as the macula. This is the part of the eye that helps people see fine details up close. AMD can make everyday activities such as reading and driving more difficult or even impossible.


This is why getting a diagnosis for AMD can be so devastating to people. Macular degeneration is more common in older individuals. Certain lifestyles, habits, and genetic factors can increase your likelihood of developing this condition. While it does not lead to complete loss of vision, its symptoms tend to worsen over time.


Types of Macular Degeneration


There are two types of AMD — wet and dry. Between 85 percent and 90 percent of cases are dry AMD. However, dry macular degeneration does not damage vision as much as wet macular degeneration. Wet AMD can lead to serious loss of vision. There are several other clinical differences between dry and wet macular degeneration.


Dry Macular Degeneration


This is an eye condition in which the macula gradually gets thinner and functions less effectively. This is a process known as atrophy. The macula’s color or pigment changes during the early stages. Tiny masses of waste product made up of eye cells, known as drusen, build up on the retina, leading to atrophy and deterioration of the retina.


Dry macular degeneration rarely progresses further than this. According to eye care professionals, everyone over the age of 50 has at least one tiny drusen. Furthermore, dry AMD does not involve leakage of fluids from blood vessels in the eye.


Wet Macular Degeneration


Approximately 10 percent of AMD cases become wet macular degeneration. Usually, one develops dry AMD before progressing towards wet AMD. This is an eye condition characterized by the growth of new blood vessels. They grow in the choroid layer located behind the retina.


These blood vessels are quite weak, causing them to leak blood, lipids, and fluid. These fluids get into the layers of the macula and other layers of the retina. This causes the retinal cells to stop working and scar tissue to form.




It is not clear what causes macular degeneration. However, scientists believe that certain risk factors can increase your likelihood of developing this disease. The biggest risk factor is age. Other risk factors include smoking, race, and genetics.


To learn more about macular degeneration or to schedule an appointment, call Five Forks Vision at our office in Simpsonville, South Carolina at (864) 392-8200 today.

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