The difference between wet and dry AMD – and how MPS II can help

Age-related macular degeneration is a debilitating disease which can lead to loss of sight. What’s the difference between the two types – wet and dry – and how can the new screening device MPS II help delay and even prevent the onset of the disease?

What is the difference between dry AMD and wet AMD?

Roughly 90% of the population get dry AMD and 10% get wet AMD. You have to go through dry AMD to get wet AMD.

Dry AMD is where you slowly lose your sight through the retinal cells degenerating and dying over time. It has 3 stages – early, intermediate and advanced.

Wet AMD accounts for 10-15 per cent of cases. It’s also known as ‘neovascular AMD’ because it involves the growth of new blood vessels behind the retina. These new blood vessels are very fragile and so may leak fluid or blood, lifting up and distorting the retina. This results in distortion of vision and scarring that causes rapid visual loss. Everyone who develops wet AMD has the dry form first. Wet AMD can develop very quickly and it’s not possible to predict who’ll develop wet AMD or when it will occur.

One patient, Les, describes the process of developing wet AMD in this video from the NHS.

So what’s been happening over time is that government and management strategies have been focusing on patients with wet AMD – so not the 90% but the 10% – and they have giving them one of two drugs called Lucentis or Avastin.

These drugs are injected into the patient’s eyeball, which is incredibly painfully and intrusive.

It may not always work. It is also incredibly expensive. Also, one of the side effects is death – so not a great treatment!

Doctors and people have been looking at this and have been thinking this is not a good management strategy. We shouldn’t just let people with dry AMD wait until they get wet AMD and treat them using these injections.

What’s happened now is that all the emphasis has moved into looking at the 90% of people who have dry AMD in the first place and looking at how we can prevent them from getting wet AMD.

How can MPS II help eyecare professionals spot the signs of AMD?

So this is where the MPS II device kicks in – a macular pigment screener to identify those at risk and ensure a preventative management strategy is put in place. The screener can be installed in the practice and offers a quick and simple test offering reliable results.

From this the optometrist can advise changes in diet and lifestyle which can help delay or even prevent the onset of the disease, and prescribe supplements which the patient can collect from the practice at regular intervals.

Find out more about the MPS II and how it can help you spot the signs of AMD in your patients.

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