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Difference between Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration

Difference between Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) usually develops in individuals over the age of 50, the risk of blindness increases over the years, and about 7% of those past the age of 75 have an advanced form of the disease. When people develop this condition, their central vision is disturbed, and the usual symptoms include distortion of objects and blurred vision. Here are the differences between wet and dry macular degeneration. [1]


Wet age-related macular degeneration affects 15% of people with AMD and occurs when abnormal blood vessels begin to grown behind the retina. [2] They often leak fluid and blood, are usually very fragile, and cause rapid damage to the macula, which is located in the back of the eye. As a result, the patient’s loss of central vision may happen quickly. Since there are no preliminary stages, wet AMD is also referred to as advanced AMD.

When straight lines appear to be wavy, that is an early symptom of this disease. If you notice this or any other visual changes, do not hesitate to contact an eye care professional immediately for a comprehensive dilated-eye examination. [3]


In the case of dry age-related macular degeneration, cells in the macula break down slowly, causing blurred central vision in the eye that is affected. As the condition worsens, you may even see a blurred spot in that area, the macula is increasingly less effective, and central vision is lost in the eye that is affected.

Slightly blurred vision is the most common symptom with this form of AMD. People find it difficult to recognize faces or require more light when they read or perform other tasks. Although dry AMD usually affects both eyes, one eye may seem to be unaffected while vision may be lost in the other. The presence of deposits under the retina, known as drusen, is a common early sign of this condition.

In its advanced state, Dry AMD is characterized by the degeneration of the retina. It develops gradually for about 5 to 10 years, or even longer. About 85% of those diagnosed with macular degeneration have dry AMD. Wet AMD is far less common. [2]

Quote: “Many patients develop a more rapid form of visual loss secondary to the development of neovascularization from the choroid that develops either below or above the RPE; this form of ARMD is referred to as wet, while the most prevalent form is known as dry. When the dry form of ARMD progresses with larger areas of RPE atrophy, the condition is referred to as geographic atrophy (GA). GA usually is bilateral but not necessarily symmetrical. It can develop neovascularization and result in a more rapid loss of vision.”





Raj K Maturi, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Volunteer, Department of Ophthalmology, Indiana University School of Medicine; Retina Service, Midwest Eye Institute, Indianapolis, IN

ARMD, Nonexudative


[1] Casey Eye Institute Oregon Health & Science University
Macular Degeneration
July 2010.

[2]Webvision: The Organization of the Retina and Visual System
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

[3] “Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration [NEI Health Information].” National Eye Institute [NEI], of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 July 2010.

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