Dry vs Wet AMD: guide for patients

Dry vs Wet AMD: guide for patientsHow well educated are your patients about the types of age-related macular degeneration? The symptoms of dry and wet AMD are similar but their prognosis can be very different, with wet developing much quicker and requiring treatment immediately. Dry can progress to severe vision loss or wet AMD if not treated. Read on and share with your colleagues and patients afterwards.


Characteristics: Dry AMD is caused by small deposits on the retina, just beneath the macula, called drusen deposits. This causes the retina to slowly deteriorate, the deposits become more prolific and larger, which effects vision.

Symptoms: The main early symptom of dry AMD is general visual distortion; you may see objects in a crooked or wavy way. This then gives way to a blind spot developing in the centre of your vision.

Prognosis: Dry AMD is very gradual and it takes several years for vision to be seriously affected. Early screening will spot the smaller deposits and expedite treatment.

Whilst there is currently no cure for Dry AMD, there are a number of ways to slow the progress of the condition down and prevent Wet AMD occurring.

Treatment: Patients are usually given a lutein and zeaxanthin , which helps to maintain macular pigment. These two nutrients are also found in fresh fruits and dark, leafy greens, so the patient is advised to increase their intake of these alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle. Patients are also advised to give up smoking, if they do, more information can be found in our AMD and smoking infographic.


Characteristics: Wet AMD is caused by what is known as oxidative stress, blood vessels under the retina grow larger and then leak which causes damage to the macula.

Symptoms: The symptoms are similar to dry AMD, but are apparent much more quickly. This type of AMD develops over a few months rather than years. 80% of AMD cases start as dry and 20% of people will progress to wet AMD.

Prognosis: The abnormal, leaky blood vessels cause the macula to lift up from its base, causing rapid and severe vision loss. Currently the most effective treatment seeks to halt the growth of the blood vessels, and they are known as anti-angiogenic drugs.

Treatment: Anti- angiogenic drugs reduce the level of a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor – VEGF – the drugs are often referred to as anti-VEGF treatments too. The drugs need to be given at regular intervals via an injection directly into the corner of (a numbed) eye.

Protecting against AMD

Our top-heavy population, long-living population means that AMD is more of a problem than it has even been. The key to managing this threat to sight is with a healthy diet and lifestyle and regular screenings with your ophthalmologist or optician.

Smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise can all contribute to the development of AMD, especially if you are in a high-risk group due to your family history. Having a diet rich in fruit and dark, leafy vegetables alongside taking regular exercise will help to protect a patient’s macular pigment.

Macular pigment screening should be encourage for everyone in a high risk group and for those over 60 and maybe even over 50.

Read more about AMD and high risk groups in our latest whitepaper, or explore our infographic on smoking and AMD.

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