Dry and Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration: What To Know

Author: Premier Eye Associates

When discussing age-related macular degeneration, it is common to hear the two categories of dry age-related macular degeneration and wet age-related macular degeneration. Both of these conditions arise from the same breakdown and aging changes and it is possible for a dry age-related macular degeneration to convert into a wet age-related macular degeneration.

While similar, the two types of macular degeneration have key differences which direct the needed treatment for each. Dry age-related macular degeneration is rarely treated with interventional medications and is treated to preserve functional vision and prevent the transition to wet age-related macular degeneration. Wet age-related macular degeneration is treated with medication and is much more rapidly progressive if untreated.

Causes of Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is caused by aging changes in the retina. The basement membrane of the retina can become dysfunctional and allow fluid and other molecules to enter the retina.

This breakdown of the retinal barrier can lead to fluid or waste products building up in the retina and disrupting the tissue.

When the retina is altered in this way, it can cause blurry vision or distorted vision.

The particular factors involved in the process of developing macular degeneration are still relatively unknown but there are numerous risk factors that have been identified.

Risks for Macular Degeneration

Among the key risk factors for macular degeneration are age, gender, race, diet, a family history of macular degeneration, and smoking. Each of these factors can contribute to the likelihood of developing age-related macular degeneration.

With age, the risk for macular degeneration increases. The vast majority of age-related macular degeneration occurs in individuals over the age of sixty.

Females are significantly more at risk for developing macular degeneration at any age. The pathophysiology behind this increased risk is believed to have to do with the amount and type of hormones in the body.

Among races, Caucasians are the most at risk of developing macular degeneration. Other races including Native Americans and Asians are also at risk to a lesser degree.

Research has shown that the dietary intact of certain fatty acids may increase the risk of developing macular degeneration. The exact risk factor and how influential diet may be in developing macular degeneration are still being investigated.

The most modifiable risk factor for macular degeneration is smoking. Smoking tobacco products has been shown to nearly double the relative risk of developing macular degeneration.

Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry macular degeneration is marked by changes to the macula, the center of the retina responsible for the best vision.

These changes include changes in color or pigmentation and the build-up of fatty deposits within the retina.

At this stage of macular degeneration, there is no fluid accumulation or new blood vessel growth.

Dry macular degeneration does not require interventional treatment and it is recommended that the condition is monitored regularly.

Additionally, AREDS vitamins may be recommended for decreasing the likelihood of converting into wet macular degeneration.

Wet Macular Degeneration

Wet age-related macular degeneration is similar to the advanced cases of dry macular degeneration and includes the presence of fluid in the retina and new blood vessel growth into the retina.

This fluid may significantly decrease the vision in the eye and lead to permanent vision loss if untreated.

The treatment for wet macular degeneration includes intraocular injections of anti-VEGF medications to reduce the leakage and prevent new blood vessels from growing.


Dr. Anthony Spina and the staff of Premier Eye Associates specialize in glasses, soft contact lenses, hard contact lenses, and medical eye exams. Call our eye doctor in Auburn, AL today at (334) 539-5391 or schedule an appointment online if you are interested in macular degeneration.  Our optometrist provides only the highest quality eye care services amongst eye doctors in the Auburn Alabama area.

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