Dry vs. Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration falls into two categories: wet and dry. Dry tends to develop more slowly and isn't linked to severe vision loss. Wet macular degeneration is more aggressive and can lead to permanent damage in months or even weeks. Wet is significantly less common, but dry macular degeneration can evolve into wet degeneration, which is a much more serious condition.

Overview of Wet and Dry

In most cases, macular degeneration starts as dry, also called atrophic. Then, in 10 to 20 percent of patients, it becomes wet. If your macular degeneration is age-related, it occurs in both eyes. However, both eyes don't necessarily worsen at the same rate. As a result, a patient may have wet in one eye and dry in another. Ideally, you want to catch and treat this issue as soon as possible in the dry stage.

Overview of Dry Macular Degeneration

With dry macular degeneration, the cells and blood vessels beneath the macula break down. This creates small white or yellowish deposits in the back of the eye called "drusen". These deposits damage the macula and limit its ability to communicate with the brain. As a result, patient's vision becomes dimmer and blurrier.

Treatments for Dry Macular Degeneration

In order to effectively treat this condition, you need to catch it in the early stages. Ideally, you should get an eye exam on a regular basis, and your eye doctor can let you know if you have the early signs of this disorder.

If you don't get regular eye exams, you may miss the signs, and as blindness starts, there may be no way to reverse the vision loss. In addition to getting checked by your doctor, be alert about blurry vision or other issues that may indicate a problem, and call your doctor if you notice anything.

In the early stages, some patients are able to effectively delay experiencing the symptoms of macular degeneration by taking nutritional supplements that contain a combination of vitamins C, E, lutein, zeaxanthin, as well as zinc and copper. This vitamin formula was discovered by researchers with the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) in 2001. Originally, the formula included beta-carotene. In 2006, a second study began which led to the replacement of beta-carotene with a combination of lutein and zeaxanthin. This product, which can be found wherever vitamins are sold, will be identified as containing the AREDS 2 formula.

Before taking these high levels of vitamins and minerals, you should talk with your doctor about whether taking the AREDS formulation is right for you.

Overview of Wet Macular Degeneration

If a patient has dry macular degeneration, it can evolve into the wet version of this disorder. At this point, blood vessels grow into the back of the eye. These blood vessels leak, and that causes the macula to break down. As it breaks down, the macula moves out of its normal position. That creates a distortion for your central vision.

Treatments for Wet Macular Degeneration

There are certain medications that can help with wet macular degeneration. Typically, your eye doctor injects those medications into the eye. They cause the blood vessels to shrink and the retinal cells to function better. In some cases, the doctor may seal the blood vessels using laser therapy.

There may be more options that can help you. To learn more, contact New Vision Eye Center today. We provide diagnosis, surgeries, and treatments for macular degeneration and a range of other eye issues including cataracts. We serve patients in Fort Pierce, Sebastian, Vero Beach, FL, and the surrounding area.