Dry Versus Wet AMD and Their Treatment Options
Everything changes as you get older, even your vision in many cases. If you've noticed a little difficulty with your central vision, you may have age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The condition is the leading cause of vision loss in people 50 and older, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
How Macular Degeneration Changes Your Vision
The macula is located in the center of the retina, the thin layer of cells that lines the back of your eye. The retina sends light impulses to your brain, which turns the impulses in easily recognizable images.
Your macula is responsible for central and color vision. If cells are damaged or abnormal blood vessels form in the macula, colors may appear dull, or blank and blurry spots may appear in your central vision. Macular degeneration can affect one or both eyes.
Dry AMD: The Most Common Form
The dry form of macular degeneration affects 80 percent of people who have the condition, the AAO notes. If you have dry macular degeneration, the cells in your macula gradually get thinner. Drusen may also be present under the macula if you've been diagnosed with the dry form of the condition. Drusen are yellow spots that form when fatty proteins clump together.
AMD is painless and doesn't cause any symptoms, at first. In fact, you may not even be aware that you have a problem with your eyes unless you visit an eye doctor yearly for eye examinations.
Distorted vision can be a symptom of the dry form of AMD. The change in vision occurs if drusen lift the center of the macula slightly. You may notice that straight lines suddenly appear bent or curved if this happens. It may also take longer for your eyes to adjust when you enter a dark room.
If the condition progresses, you may eventually notice blank or blurry spots in the middle of your vision. Although the spots can get bigger with time, they usually don't affect your peripheral, or side vision.
The wet form of AMD occurs when new blood vessels grow under the macula, causing it to bulge or swell. These abnormal vessels begin to leak fluid and blood, which can interfere with vision. If wet AMD isn't treated, permanent scarring can occur in the macula.
The same symptoms occur whether you have dry or wet AMD. In addition to a white or dark spot in the center of your vision or blurred vision, you may notice wavy lines and colors that seem less intense. Unlike dry AMD, wet AMD symptoms can happen very suddenly.
AMD Treatment Options
Treatment options vary depending on the type of AMD. At this time, there is no treatment available for dry AMD, but you may be able to delay or stop the progression of the condition by taking supplements and vitamins identified in the National Eye Institute's Age-Related Eye Disease Study. They include:
- Copper (2 mg)
- Zeaxanthin (2mg)
- Lutein (10 mg)
- Zinc (80 mg)
- Vitamin E (400 IUs)
- Vitamin C (500 mg)
An implantable miniature telescope may be an option if you have severe vision loss due to the dry form of AMD. The telescope replaces the lens of one of your eyes and projects larger than normal images on to the retina, allowing healthy areas of the retina outside the macula to provide color and central vision.
If you have the wet form of AMD, your eye doctor may recommend injectable medications that prevent abnormal blood vessels from growing in your eye. The injections use very small needles and can be placed in the corner of your eye.
No matter what type of AMD you have, you may benefit from magnifiers, eyeglasses with telescopic lenses, large print books, software programs that convert text to speech, and other low vision aids.
Are you concerned about your central vision? Contact us to schedule an eye examination.
Sight Matters: What is Macular Degeneration?
American Academy of Ophthalmology: What Is Macular Degeneration?, 5/10/19
Bright Focus Foundation: Treatments for Dry Macular Degeneration
VisionAware: What Treatments Are Available for Wet Macular Degeneration?