What is the difference between wet and dry macular degeneration?

Wardb123 asked...

What is the difference between wet and dry macular degeneration?

Expert Answer

Lylas Mogk, M.D. is an ophthalmologist and director of the Henry Ford Visual Rehabilitation and Research Center in Grosse Pointe and Livonia, Michigan, and the author of Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight.

The difference between wet and dry macular degeneratiom (AMD) is that in wet AMD blood vessels develop under the macular where they should not be and in dry AMD there are no such vessels. In wet AMD those vessels leak, bleed and damage the macula whereas, which can happen suddenly, whereas in dry AMD the macular gradually deteriorates without any blood vessels. It appears that everyone begins with the dry type and about 10% convert to the wet type and 90% remain dry.

There is now a good treatment for wet AMD, if it is caught early, which is an injection into the eye of a drug that stops the vessels temporarily, requiring re-treatment every month or several months. For dry AMD there is only a combination of nutritional supplements to help retard the rate of progression, which is recommended for both types of AMD: Vit C 500mg, Vit E 400gm, Zinc 80mg and for non-smokers beta-carotene 15mg.

Research is ongoing for treatments for dry AMD and for treatments for wet in the form of drops or pills rather than injections but none has yet completed all the research steps required for approval for general use.

In the late stages of both wet and dry AMD central vision is lost, but peripheral vision is unaffected. Vision rehabilitation provides important strategies and devices for empowering individuals with vision loss to use their remaining vision to best advantage to maintain independence in daily activities.