WHICH IS WORSE, WET OR DRY MACULAR DEGENERATION?

Dr. Jim Martin 02/25/2014

macular_degeneration.jpgMacular degeneration comes in two forms: wet and dry. Both forms of this condition cause damage to the eye's retina which leads to vision loss. The wet form is more aggressive and can lead to vision loss faster. The dry form is much slower and it may be years before vision loss is profound. Which is worse?

To make that call, you need to know a bit more about the condition and how both forms do their damage. The macula is a small spot centered in the back of the eye over the retina. It is a highly sensitive area responsible for detailed central vision. When this area of the retina sustains damage, it leads to loss of central vision clarity and gradual loss of functional sight.

What Is Dry Macular Degeneration?

The dry version of macular degeneration is the slow, less aggressive form of the condition. It happens when the light-sensitive cells in the macula begin to deteriorate. Those with this condition have a large accumulation of retinal drusen, yellow deposits under the retina. Tiny, scattered drusen deposits are quite common, especially in people over 60. However, when the small deposits begin to grow, it can be an early sign of macular degeneration.

As the drusen deposits grow, the light-sensitive cells in the retina begin to breakdown, causing a blurred spot in the patient's vision. In time, it will get bigger and darker, damaging central vision and acuity.

What Is Wet Macular Degeneration?

The rapid, more aggressive form of this condition is wet macular degeneration. It happens when blood vessels begin growing abnormally out of the choroid layer of the eye. These abnormal vessels break easily and leak blood into the space under the retina. This blood build-up causes the macula to loosen from the retina, interfering with its ability to function. In most cases, the patient experiences blurry central vision that rapidly becomes worse. However, in a few cases, patients don't experience immediate vision changes.

Those with the wet form of macular degeneration experienced the dry form first. However, not everyone who develops dry macular degeneration will develop the wet form. Currently, there is no way to predict which patients will develop either form of the condition.

Which Type Of Macular Degeneration Causes More Damage?

Most people think wet macular degeneration is worse because of the sudden, rapid onset. However, the dry form is more insidious as it steals sight at such a slow rate. The reality is that both forms of this disease are life-changing for the patient. It is just a matter of how long it takes.

If you are having vision problems, contact us here at Broome Optical. While there is no cure for macular degeneration, we can screen you for this eye disease and map out the best treatment plan for you. Contact our Amarillo eye care specialists today to make an appointment.

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