Whether it’s of the dry or wet kind, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic, irreversible eye condition that leads to impairment of a person’s central vision. It affects roughly 4% of Americans and is the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 50. Although no cure currently exists for AMD, there are steps that patients and doctors can take to help prevent development or slow progression.
Today we’re exploring the difference between wet and dry macular degeneration, their causes, risk factors, and symptoms.
What is Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration?
Wet and dry macular degeneration are both variations of AMD. Patients always develop the dry type first, and roughly 20% of those with AMD will later develop wet macular degeneration.
Dry macular degeneration develops when small deposits of cell waste and lipids begin gathering on the retina, eventually leading to visual impairment.
Wet macular degeneration is a result of abnormal blood vessels growing near the macula and retina. These vessels can leak and create fluid buildup, distorting the retina’s and macula’s function.
What Are the Risk Factors for Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration?
There are still many unknowns about the cause of age-related macular degeneration, but genetics and family history often play a role. People with relatives with the condition are not guaranteed to also develop it, but their likelihood is much higher than those without macular degeneration in their family’s medical history. Plus, Caucasian and Asian races develop AMD more commonly than other groups.
More common risk factors
- Family history
- Age of 50+ years
- Excessive sun exposure
- High blood pressure
- Inactive lifestyle
- High fat/low nutrient diet
- History of smoking
- Development of abnormal blood vessels
What are the Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Although painless, macular degeneration does cause troublesome, irreversible symptoms in patients. Symptoms of the dry type are less severe and create less visual damage than those of the wet type. People who develop wet macular degeneration experience much more significant vision loss.
Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration Symptoms
- Distorted images (warping on edges that should appear straight)
- Impaired central vision (blurred/darkened spots in the line of sight)
- Inability to adapt to low light or a dim light
- Distorted text on paper or screen
- Reduction in seeing color brightness
- Loss of facial recognition
- Need for brighter lights indoors
Wet and dry macular degeneration is an irreversible condition, but the ophthalmologists at Eye Associates can slow the progression of this disease with effective treatment and plans of action. Patients experience better results if AMD is caught early, so schedule an exam with us today: 478-923-5872
Thank you for checking out part 2 of our 5-part blog series on Low Vision. Stay tuned for next month’s blog, and check out any of the ones you might have missed:
- Low Vision Blog Series, Part 1: What is Low Vision?
- Low Vision Blog Series, Part 2: Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration
- Low Vision Blog Series, Part 3: Types of Glaucoma
- Low Vision Blog Series, Part 4: Signs of Cataracts
- Low Vision Blog Series, Part 5: Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy