In the United States, a staggering 10 million individuals grapple with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that stands as the leading cause of vision impairment among the elderly. When it comes to AMD, dry AMD outpaces its wet counterpart in terms of prevalence, and it tends to be milder. Regrettably, there’s no silver-bullet treatment capable of completely curing AMD at this time. Nonetheless, adopting specific dietary adjustments and engaging in self-care practices can prove effective in diminishing the risk or alleviating the symptoms associated with both wet and dry AMD. For further insights into the difference between wet and dry macular degeneration, read on.
What causes AMD?
Prior to delving into the specifics of wet vs dry macular degeneration, it is imperative to establish a foundational understanding of macular degeneration as a whole. Macular degeneration stands as a persistent ocular affliction that progressively undermines central vision. This degenerative process ensues when the conveyance of vital nutrients and the removal of waste materials, facilitated by a layer of cells known as the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), experience a deceleration. Consequently, this slowdown in cellular function leads to the development of yellowish accumulations termed drusen beneath the retina.
Difference between wet and dry macular degeneration
Wet macular degeneration surfaces as the less common but notably more serious variant of the ailment. In the wet stage of macular degeneration, there arises a significant issue known as choroidal neovascularization, where new blood vessels begin to form beneath the retina, causing heightened concern. These novel blood vessels often lead to the seepage of blood or fluids into the retina, resulting in distorted vision where seeking immediate medical consultation is imperative. An invaluable tool for detecting any alterations in your vision is the macular degeneration Amsler grid, a self-administered test that can reveal distortions in straight lines, indicative of fluid accumulation beneath the retina.
Approximately 85–90% of AMD cases fall into the dry variant of this condition. Dry AMD typically inflicts less severe visual impairment compared to its wet counterpart and does not involve the abnormal growth of blood vessels. A telltale indicator of dry AMD is the presence of numerous yellow deposits known as drusen. These drusen consist of waste materials and lipids accumulated from retinal cells. As these drusen proliferate within the retina, the macula’s ability to generate visual signals may diminish. Individuals with dry AMD may encounter visual disturbances, such as the emergence of dark or hazy spots within their central vision.
AMD Wet vs Dry Signs and Symptoms
In the initial phases of dry AMD, individuals may encounter no discernible symptoms whatsoever. As dry AMD advances into its intermediate stage, some individuals may begin to notice slight blurriness in their central vision or face challenges when trying to see in dimly lit environments.
The symptoms associated with advanced dry AMD bear resemblance to those of wet AMD. People grappling with either of these conditions may:
- Perceive straight lines as distorted or wavy.
- Detect blank spots or gaps in their field of vision.
- Encounter increased difficulties with vision in low-light settings.
- Experience a progressively blurry central vision.
For anyone undergoing alterations in their vision, seeking consultation with a healthcare professional is of utmost importance. AMD symptoms can vary from one person to another, and an accurate diagnosis can only be provided by a qualified medical practitioner.
Risk Factors of AMD
Individuals with a familial lineage marked by AMD are at an elevated susceptibility to developing the condition themselves. Studies underscore that those who engage in smoking habits or are subjected to excessive UV light exposure also face an increased risk.
Moreover, several other prevalent causes and risk factors associated with AMD encompass:
- Suboptimal dietary habits.
- Excessive body weight.
- Elevated blood pressure levels.
- Insufficient engagement in physical activities.
Above all, age reigns supreme as the most paramount among all AMD risk factors. Individuals aged 55 and above find themselves perched on a heightened risk precipice for AMD, and this risk escalates progressively with the passage of time.
Can macular degeneration be treated?
As of now, there exist no definitive remedies for the complete cure of dry macular degeneration. Nonetheless, ongoing clinical trials are actively exploring promising avenues for potential treatments. Among the notable breakthroughs in dry macular degeneration treatment are the exploration of stem cell therapies, the investigation into an Apl-2 drug injection, the assessment of an oral antibiotic named Oracea, and the examination of an anti-inflammatory medication known as Metformin.
It’s worth noting that the majority of these potential treatments are presently in either phase two or phase three of their research, suggesting that they may not become readily available for several more years.
AMD in all its forms stems from the damage inflicted upon cells beneath the retina. Consequently, any measures aimed at safeguarding the eyes from this type of harm can contribute to a diminished risk of developing AMD.
Notably, considering smoking as one of the principal risk factors for AMD, refraining from smoking or never initiating this habit can play a pivotal role in AMD prevention.
Incorporating regular exercise into one’s routine also stands as a valuable means to curtail the risk of AMD. Sustaining a wholesome lifestyle can aid individuals in managing their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which in turn serves to further reduce their susceptibility to AMD.
Learn the difference between wet and dry macular degeneration to effectively combat it
In the face of the growing prevalence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and its potential impact on our vision, it’s crucial to take action now. Whether you’re at risk due to family history, lifestyle choices, or age, there’s a collective responsibility to prioritize eye health. Seek regular check-ups, adopt healthier habits like quitting smoking, maintaining a balanced diet, and staying physically active.
Stay informed about the latest advancements in AMD research and treatments, as breakthroughs are on the horizon. By taking these proactive steps today, we can collectively work towards a future where the threat of AMD is minimized, and the gift of clear vision is preserved for generations to come.