What is the difference between Dry and Wet AMD?

Macular degeneration (known as AMD) is a disease common in people aged 65+ that causes damage to the retina and to central vision and it comes in two forms, dry and wet. Dry AMD is much more common and mild but it can turn into the wet type of macular degeneration and cause more damage to your vision.

Amplify EyeCare Manhattan

Dry Macular Degeneration

Around 90% of all AMD cases are dry which rarely leads to legal blindness. In this type of macular degeneration, the macula ages and thins out, resulting in clusters of small pieces of protein and fat collecting under the retina called drusen. Dry AMD usually starts in just one eye but is likely to also develop in the other eye over time. In the early stages, a person with dry AMD usually does not notice any change in his or her vision because the effects of dry AMD are very gradual and usually the unaffected eye can compensate for the eye with AMD. It is therefore so crucial to be checked by an eye doctor who can detect the early stages of this disease and help slow down its progression.

Wet Macular Degeneration

Most legal blindness resulting from macular degeneration occurs in 10% of cases which fall under the wet AMD category. The wet type of macular degeneration gets its name from the fact that it damages the eye due to the leakage of fluid and blood under the retina. This results from unstable new blood vessels that form on the retina.

Wet Macular Degeneration
Symptoms

Symptoms

Dry AMD

The symptoms for this more mild form of macular degeneration start gradually and without pain, making it hard for the person with this condition to notice it for the first while as they could be asymptomatic for months or years. A person with dry AMD may notice very subtly over time that their vision starts to decrease and could fluctuate, but is usually best in bright light. Since dry AMD can go undetected at the beginning, it is so important to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor who can start to see early changes in your retina. If dry AMD is diagnosed early, certain precautions can be taken to prevent it from turning into the more serious type of wet AMD which can cause serious vision loss.

Wet AMD

In contrast to the gradual symptoms of dry AMD, in wet AMD, the onset of symptoms could be sudden with a rapid progression.

If you have wet AMD, you may notice certain differences in your vision, such as:

  • Straight lines looking more curvy and distorted - as if you’re looking in a mirror that’s bent out of shape
  • You no longer see as clearly with your glasses like you used to
  • Recognizing faces may be more challenging
  • Difficulty adapting to dim lights
Symptoms

Diagnosis

Various tests are performed by your eye doctor in order to conclusively diagnose this condition. You will be asked to share your medical history, any symptoms or changes in your vision and if any of your first degree relatives have macular degeneration. The eye doctor will use eye drops to dilate your pupils which enables a non-invasive examination of the retina where the doctor can check for characteristic signs of macular degeneration, such as yellow spots called drusen or abnormal blood cells.

 

In addition, there are various other diagnostic tools available which can display damage to the retina. One such method, Ocular Coherence Tomography (OCT) is a special machine used for imaging of the retina in which any changes, such as those that are seen in AMD, can be clearly detected. Another option is fluorescein angiography where dye is injected into the vein of the arm and this dye travels to the eye. A picture of the retina is taken to show the dye which highlights any leakage or retinal changes resulting from AMD. 

 

The eye doctor will also check your vision to detect any changes and will use the Amsler grid for this purpose. This tool is a small black and white grid that the patient simply looks at and can determine if any of the lines look distorted or have disappeared which can help identify any visual changes such as a blind spot. You will likely be given an Amsler grid to use at home in order to screen for any changes or progression of AMD. There are many effective tools we have today to ensure a proper diagnosis of macular degeneration.

Common Questions

How do I know how to distinguish if I have dry or wet AMD? The best way to figure it out is to go see your eye doctor who will be able to take a look at your retina and based on different findings a clear diagnosis can be established. The main sign of dry AMD are yellow spots on the retina called drusen which is present in patients with macular degeneration. If this condition progresses then dry AMD becomes wet AMD. In wet macular degeneration, the eye doctor will see signs of atypical blood vessels forming on the retina, known medically as neovascularization. In addition to these findings, the eye doctor will discuss with you your symptoms and will check to see if there is a decrease in your visual abilities. The eye doctor will use various diagnostic testing methods to figure out whether you have macular degeneration and if it falls under the dry or wet category.
For dry AMD, the main goal is early detection and preventing it from turning into wet AMD. The dry category does not cause significant damage to our vision but it’s a warning that the retina is at high risk for developing unstable blood vessels which can cause wet macular degeneration. If you have dry AMD, your eye doctor will recommend an effective vitamin supplement in order to prevent vision loss. The supplement contains vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and copper. In addition, your eye doctor will recommend that you do a quick and easy at home screening test with a small black and white card called an Amsler grid to make sure that your condition is not turning into wet AMD. You take a look at this grid with one eye at a time and you’re asked to pay attention if any of the lines appear to be curvy or distorted or if any of the lines disappear which could attest to a blind spot. If there are any unusual changes in the appearance of the grid then you should consult your eye doctor who can check if there are any changes in your retina that could lead to wet AMD. In wet AMD, the visual damage is caused by abnormal new blood vessels that form in the retina. There is an effective treatment for this using injections that are called anti-VEGF which can stop vision loss and even reverse the damage caused by AMD.
What is the difference between Dry and Wet AMD?
Dr. Wernick cartoon

Summary

Macular degeneration is a common eye disease in people aged 65+ and thankfully there are wonderful ways your eye doctor can detect this condition early in order to prevent visual damage. There is also very effective treatment available for those who are experiencing changes in their vision. It is important to understand the difference between the more mild dry AMD as opposed to wet AMD so that the proper precautions can be taken to avoid serious vision loss.  It is very highly recommended for people aged sixty or over to be monitored for macular degeneration. If you are in this age group, or have a family history of macular degeneration or any suspicion that you might be experiencing changes in your vision, please schedule an appointment at our office. The eye doctor will check for AMD and will guide you with the necessary precautions and measures you can take to preserve the health of your eyes.

Testimonials


  • At Amplify with Dr Wernick I was seeking help for seemingly intractable, probably age-related dryness. I've seen other doctors about it, and that has been helpful, but what he explained to me about it and the careful way he answered all my questions gave me so much more of a clear understanding of what is going on (and is not) that I am more able to implement all his and others' recommendations than I was before. And he gave me additional resources for further follow-up. I am most grateful.


    Cynthia Norton

  • Wow! This is a great Eye Care medical facility. I was thoroughly examined by Dr. Pinkhasov for over 2 hours. She made sure to check my eyes for pretty much everything and patiently explained proper care for my eyes. They definitely know how to provide great care and treat their patients right. Now I know why they have such a great reputation and been around for so long.


    Steve Fay

  • Dr. Kavner is a gifted diagnostician and orthoptic therapist. He treated me several decades ago for a condition similar to dyslexia. I was having migraines five times per week. I worked with him for about a year and I experienced tremendous improvement (down to 3-4 per year) that has lasted.


    Mary K.

  • Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!


    Peter G.

  • Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!


    Kinkie F.

Blog

eye-problems-such-as-near-sighted

Why are your eyes tired, dry, or vision blurry after hours on a phone or computer? Understanding the impact of digital screen time on how we blink

Digital devices affect our blinking rate and can lead to digital eye strain. In the United States, nearly 70 percent […]

Read More
jack-b-oWUeGozstgs-unsplash

Keratoconus

Keratoconus occurs in approximately one in 2,000 individuals and affects people of all races equally. What is keratoconus? It is […]

Read More
pexels-anna-shvets-4557831

Suppression

Suppression occurs when your brain shuts off one of your eyes because it either sees double or doesn't work as […]

Read More
see all blogs

Contact Us To Amplify Your EyeCare

Amplify EyeCare Manhattan Logo

Working Hours

Tuesday - Thursday
9:30am–5pm

Friday
9:30am–3pm

Saturday
9:30am–2pm

Sunday
Closed

Location
235 East 67th Street, Suite 201, New York, New York, United States, 10065
Fax
(212) 759-2220
Website Accessibility Policy
Safety protocols page
privacy policy
Cancellation Policy
For Patients
appointment
Call Us
Referrals
Assessments
eyefile-adduserphone-handsetcalendar-fullarrow-uparrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram