Wet Vs. Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Main Differences

Wet Vs. Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Main Differences

Sep 08, 2022

A standard visual impairment affecting adults over 65 is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This condition is the most common reason for irreversible vision loss.

Age-related macular degeneration does not cause complete blindness but severely central vision among patients. The central vision is crucial to help view shapes, colors, and details. However, the lack of central vision makes recognizing faces, reading books, and driving challenging.

There are two classifications of AMD — wet and dry. Dry AMD is common and progresses slowly. Unfortunately, wet AMD results in rapid and severe vision loss but is more comfortably treatable than dry AMD. This article focuses on the causes, types, risk factors, and treatment for wet and dry AMD. Kindly continuing reading for more details.

Causes of Age-Related Macular Degeneration


Dry AMD occurs by changes beneath the retina in the vital region called the macula. The macula is the center of the retina and helps you visualize clearly. With dry AMD, clusters of lipids and proteins accumulate under the macula and are called drusen. Large drusen interfering with central vision are the defining feature of age-related macular degeneration. In addition, thinning or wearing down of the macula occurs in people as they age.


Wet AMD occurs due to the growth of irregular blood vessels under the eye’s macula. As a result, the blood vessels leak fluids into the retina to impact vision. As a result, you might experience scarring within the retina. Generally, vision loss occurs faster in wet AMD than in dry AMD.

Risk Factors of Age-Related Macular Generation

Age-related macular degeneration is relatively common, affecting millions, states the National Eye Institute (NEI). Unfortunately, no information is available to researchers on why it occurs. However, there are some risk factors associated with AMD.

The risk factors of AMD include:

  • Drusen Present under the Retina: Having drusen under the retina isn’t an indicator of vision loss. However, the presence of drusen increases the risk of AMD. In addition, large drusen impair central vision, becoming a defining feature of this condition.
  • Age: The risk of AMD increases as you age because of the natural wear and tear of your eyes. Being over 50 puts you at a higher risk of AMD.
  • Family History: Your risks of AMD increase significantly if your parents or siblings have AMD. Some evidence suggests the cause of AMD might be genetic mutations inherited from the family. However, research is ongoing on this subject.
  • Smoking: Besides increasing your risk of several health conditions, smoking also makes you susceptible to AMD.
  • High Blood Pressure: Hypertension is associated with an increased risk of AMD.
  • Obesity: Obese people are at a high risk of AMD.
  • Diet: Foods containing saturated fat, including dairy products, oils, and processed meats, also increases your risk of AMD.

Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Complete vision loss is not a feature of AMD, which merely causes vision impairment. The specific symptoms and progress of AMD depend on your type of AMD and other health factors.

The symptoms of dry AMD might include no signs, intermediate symptoms making your experience central vision blurriness, and challenges viewing in lowlight and late that involve looking at straight lines as wavy. Loss of sharpness in the vision and having black spots is also dry AMD symptom.

After the symptoms of dry AMD progress to the late stage, the symptoms are similar to wet AMD. Rarely dry AMD becomes wet AMD, but there is no mechanism to determine whether you might experience the changeover. Therefore you need to seek an assessment from our eye doctor in Calgary regularly.

Wet AMD causes you to see straight lines, warped edges, and crooked lines. You might also have blurry areas in the center of your vision, blank spots, challenges seeing in dim lighting, and colors that seem less vivid than earlier.

Diagnosing Age-Related Macular Degeneration

You might need to get macular degeneration screening by performing a dilated eye exam by receiving eye drops to allow your pupils to widen or dilate to enable the professional to look into your eye comprehensively for a health check. However, you might feel uncomfortable after dilating your eyes and becoming sensitive to light. Therefore, the eye doctor might also recommend additional testing to help confirm an AMD diagnosis of optical coherence tomography, fluorescein angiography, and Amsler grid test.

You might have AMD with other eye conditions like cataracts and glaucoma that can cause vision loss in many. Therefore you must seek regular exams from the eye clinic near you to ensure no severe conditions affect your eyes.

Treatment for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Different treatments are available for age-related macular degeneration. Some therapies help you adapt to low vision, making managing dry or wet age-related macular degeneration comfortable. Other therapies are particular to the type of AMD affecting you.

Unfortunately, no cure for dry AMD nor treatments to reverse its effects on vision is available. However, studies are progressing to find an effective treatment for AMD. Researchers are looking at a combination of vitamins and mineral supplements that might help lower the risk of advancing AMD by approximately 25 percent.

The vitamins and minerals identified by researchers are commercially available products. However, it helps if you discuss your symptoms with our eye doctor in Calgary and choose a remedy best suited for your needs.

Preventing AMD is a challenge as you age. However, you can take preventive measures like quitting smoking, getting routine eye exams, having a balanced diet, and maintaining your blood pressure at stable rates.

AMD is a definitive cause of vision loss among adults, with dry AMD contributing to most cases. However, slowing down the progress of the AMD is possible besides reversing it. Therefore talking to your doctor about the risks of AMD or the symptoms you experience is a great way to stay ahead of your eye health as you age.

We at Premier Eye Care — Seton help you detect wet and dry age-related macular degeneration if you are affected by symptoms of this problem. Kindly schedule an appointment with us for macular degeneration screening in Calgary to slow the progress of this condition.

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