Understanding the Differences: Wet vs. Dry Macular Degeneration

August 29, 2019 — by Thomas Byrd, MD
Tags: Macular Degeneration

Illustration of wet vs. dry macular degenerationAge-related macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss in the United States. This condition affects the macula, which is the central part of the retina. Individuals suffering from macular degeneration will experience central vision loss, or a loss of fine detail. This condition can interfere with a person’s ability to read, drive, or recognize faces.

There are two forms of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Experienced eye doctor Thomas Byrd helps our Detroit, MI, patients understand the key differences between wet vs. dry macular degeneration, and he offers treatment solutions to slow the progression of the disease and preserve clear vision.

Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry macular degeneration is the most common form of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. Most cases of AMD start off as dry, and then a small percentage progress to the wet form. When dry macular degeneration is present, small white or yellow deposits form on the retina, just below the macula. The deposits, which are called drusen, will gradually wear away at the macula.

Dry macular degeneration tends to be a slow progressing condition. When the disease is in its earliest stages, our Detroit patients are unlikely to notice any side effects. However, as the condition worsens, central vision may become blurry or unfocused.

Treating Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry macular degeneration cannot be cured, but because the condition progresses so slowly, many individuals are able to manage it through some simple lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Maintaining a healthy, nutritious diet
  • Introducing supplements that support the vision
  • Losing excess weight, if applicable
  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Avoiding smoking

If vision loss does occur as a result of dry macular degeneration, it is usually minor and gradual. In these situations, Dr. Byrd can provide patients with low vision aids. Low vision aids do not actually treat AMD, but they do enhance vision so that patients can perform basic daily tasks.

Wet Macular Degeneration

Wet macular degeneration is much more rare than dry macular degeneration, but it is also more aggressive, so it accounts for more cases of severe vision loss than dry AMD. When a patient is suffering from wet macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels develop beneath the retina, reaching toward the macula. The abnormal blood vessels are likely to break, bleed, or leak fluid. This damages the macula and causes it to pull away from its base.

Unlike dry macular degeneration, which usually progresses slowly, wet macular degeneration is often a fast-moving disease. Rather than small, subtle changes in vision, our Detroit patients with wet macular degeneration may experience a sudden and significant loss of central vision.

Treating Wet Macular Degeneration

As with dry macular degeneration, there is no cure for wet macular degeneration. However, there are several treatments that are effective in controlling the condition so that patients can preserve as much of their central vision as possible. Treatments offered by Dr. Byrd include:

  • Injections of anti-angiogenic drugs
  • Laser therapy
  • Photodynamic laser therapy

Learn More

Although there is no cure for wet or dry macular degeneration, Dr. Thomas Byrd can provide treatments to help patients preserve their vision so that they enjoy a high quality of life. If you have questions about AMD or would like to learn more about the services offered at Byrd Eye Clinic, send us a message at your earliest convenience, or call (313) 383-1300 to schedule an appointment.

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