What To Know About Wet Versus Dry Macular Degeneration

The eyes are an important organ that allows us to see and perceive the world around us. They are responsible for converting light into electrical signals that the brain can interpret and use to create images (via Medical News Today). The eyes are vulnerable to a variety of disorders and diseases. However, the prevalence of eye disorders tends to increase with age, and certain factors, such as genetics, lifestyle, and health conditions, can increase the risk of developing an eye disorder, says Cleveland Clinic.

One common eye disorder is macular degeneration. This progressive eye condition affects the macula, the middle of the retina, and helps with clear, sharp, central vision, explains the American Optometric Association. According to the clinic, macular degeneration can cause straight lines to look crooked and can cause impaired color vision. Two types of macular degeneration exist: dry and wet. Understanding the difference between the two may help shed more light on the condition.

What is dry macular degeneration?

Dry macular degeneration is a degenerative eye condition that typically affects people over 50 years, per Mayo Clinic. According to the clinic, risk factors for the condition include age, smoking, heart disease, and a family history of the condition. In people with the dry type, the cells in the macula begin to break down and thin out over time, leading to a loss of central vision, says the clinic. According to the clinic, the condition usually progresses slowly. However, as it progresses, it can cause reading and driving difficulties. Face recognition might also be an issue in people with the condition.

There is no cure for the dry type. However, there appears to be a link between nutrition and the eye condition, says American Optometric Association. To help prevent the development of the disease, Mayo Clinic advises eating foods that contain high amounts of antioxidant vitamins and minerals, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight.

What is wet macular degeneration?

Similar to the dry type, wet macular degeneration is also caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels beneath the macula. However, the wet type occurs when blood and fluid leak from the blood vessels into the macula, says Mayo Clinic. Common symptoms include a sudden decrease in central vision, distorted vision, and blurriness of words. The condition is usually diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam, says the American Optometric Association. The wet type of macular degeneration can be treated with intraocular injections and medications that may include anti-VEGF drugs, says the association.

According to Mayo Clinic, the wet type of macular degeneration can be serious and vision-threatening. Although serious, it may be possible to slow the progression of the disease with prompt diagnosis and treatment. Just like the dry version, Mayo Clinic also advises eating high amounts of antioxidant-containing foods and maintaining a healthy weight.