The Difference Between Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration

by May 9, 2023

Macular degeneration is a condition that affects vision and can lead to blindness if it progresses enough. It affects the center part of the retina known as the macula, which is responsible for sharp central vision. There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry macular degeneration. Both types are common among people over 50 years old. Both of these conditions can severely impact vision and can be related to one another – but the treatments are very different.


Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry macular degeneration is often considered the milder or earlier form of macular degeneration. It happens when the macular tissues thin over time and ultimately die which causes vision loss. This can occur slowly and may be diagnosed before there are any symptoms noticed.


Signs and Symptoms of Dry Macular Degeneration

All of the symptoms and signs of dry macular degeneration stem from the loss of tissue in the macula and affect central vision.

Blurry vision – especially in the center of the vision – is a common symptom of dry macular degeneration.

Other symptoms include changes in color vision and brightness of colors, needing additional lighting to read, and noticing words seeming to move on the page while reading.


Treatment for Dry Macular Degeneration

To diagnose dry macular degeneration, a comprehensive eye examination is needed and additional tests can be performed to determine the amount of damage to the retina.

Currently, there is no cure for this condition, but dietary supplements with vitamins and antioxidants, such as zinc and Vitamins C and E, can slow its progression, especially in the early stage. The formulation of AREDS vitamins is recommended for individuals with dry macular degeneration to prevent progression.


Wet Macular Degeneration

Wet macular degeneration, also known as exudative macular degeneration, is a more severe type of macular degeneration. It occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and break or leak fluids or blood, which damages the macula. This leaking gives the condition the name “wet” and is the key difference between wet and dry macular degeneration.


Signs and Symptoms of Wet AMD

Like dry macular degeneration, wet macular degeneration impacts the center of the vision and can cause blurriness, distortion, loss of vision, and difficulty with recognizing faces.

The visual impact of wet macular degeneration is more profound than that of dry macular degeneration.


Treatment for Wet Macular Degeneration

Like dry macular degeneration, wet macular degeneration requires a thorough eye examination and additional testing to be diagnosed.

Once diagnosed, treatment options can include intraocular injections of anti-VEGF medication to prevent blood vessel growth, laser surgery, light therapy, and continued use of AREDS vitamins to limit the potential damage in the better of the two eyes.

Distinguishing Between Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration

Understanding the importance of determining whether the condition is wet or dry, an eye doctor will perform an examination and use additional testing to accurately determine whether there is any fluid leakage.

These tests are then repeated at regular intervals to monitor for any potential changes that require additional treatment.


Our eye doctors at Neal Eye Group in Conshohocken, PA excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrists at (610) 828-9701 or schedule an appointment online if you would like to learn more about macular degeneration.  Our optometrists provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Conshohocken, Norristown, Plymouth Meeting, Lafayette Hill, and Philadelphia.

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