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Wet vs Dry: Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Learn the Differences Between Wet and Dry AMD

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Updated December 09, 2009

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Wet or dry AMD

Wet vs Dry AMD

Image © A.D.A.M.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people aged 65 and older. AMD damages the macula, the the part of the retina responsible for our sharp central vision and our ability to see fine details. If you are diagnosed with AMD, it is important to understand the differences between the wet and dry forms of the eye disease.

  • Dry AMD: Most people with AMD have the dry form. This type is usually less severe and tends to progress slowly. In dry AMD, changes occur in the pigmented cells of the macula. Also, yellow-colored deposits called drusen may be detected by your eye doctor during a dilated eye examination.

    Symptoms of dry AMD may include blurred vision, a need for more light when reading, difficulty with seeing in low light levels, trouble with distinguishing people's faces, and a blind spot in the center of vision. Dry AMD usually affects both eyes, but vision can be lost in one eye while the other eye seems unaffected. The dry form of AMD can turn into the wet form, even during the early stages.

  • Wet AMD: Wet AMD is also known as "advanced" AMD. The wet form of AMD leads to more vision loss than the dry form, but only accounts for about 10% of all cases. In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels can bleed. As blood builds up, it may lift the macula and cause visual distortions.

    Symptoms of wet AMD include straight lines that appear crooked or wavy and the sensation that objects are further away than they really are. Wet AMD can quickly lead to loss of central vision, as it does not have stages like the dry form of AMD.

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