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Two Types of Macular Degeneration

Up to 11 million people in the United States have experienced age-related macular degeneration. It’s an incurable eye disease and the leading cause of vision loss. Macular degeneration can develop as either dry or wet types. 

At Valley Eye Professionals, our eye health experts help people in the Los Angeles area with macular degeneration manage their condition and avoid its progression. Here’s what you need to know about each of the two types of macular degeneration.

What is macular degeneration?

The central portion of your retina — the inside back layer of your eye that records images — is known as the macula. The macula is responsible for your ability to focus centrally. You need it to see fine details, recognize faces, read, and drive.

When your macula works correctly, it collects images that appear in your center field of vision and transmits them to your brain to interpret. With macular degeneration, your damaged macula fails to receive images correctly.

At first, you don’t notice any symptoms; with progression, you may see images as blurry or wavy. You may find it more difficult to read clearly and to recognize faces. Serious cases of macular degeneration can lead to a complete loss of your central vision.

About dry macular degeneration

About 85% to 90% of macular degeneration cases are the dry variety. This develops in people older than 50 and results due to the thinning of your macula.

Even if you develop the condition, you may have good central vision but find functional limitations such as fluctuating vision, difficulty reading, and compromised night vision or low-light vision.

The dry form develops as your body forms small protein and fat deposits, called drusen, under the macula. As a result, your macula thins and dries out — losing function.

How serious your vision loss is with dry macular degeneration depends on the location and degree of the macular thinning. Dry macular degeneration may develop first in one eye and then progress to affect both eyes.

About wet macular degeneration

Only about 10% of people with macular degeneration have the wet variety. It develops in people who’ve had dry macular degeneration.

Wet macular degeneration can cause vision loss due to abnormal blood vessel growth — as they develop, these blood vessels are weak and fragile and leak fluid or blood that interferes with retinal function.

Wet macular degeneration may also occur due to fluid buildup in the back of your eye. Fluid can leak from the choroid, a layer of blood vessels that lies between your retina and the outer coat of your eye. This excess fluid can collect inside your eye and cause a bump in the macula, which means you lose vision or your vision becomes distorted.

Wet macular degeneration is considered a more serious form of the disease and is more likely to cause vision loss.

There is no cure for macular degeneration, but early detection may help you prevent its progression and delay or avoid vision loss. For dry macular degeneration, eye vitamins may help. For wet macular degeneration, treatments are available to either stop bleeding or prevent new blood vessel growth.

If you’ve been diagnosed with macular degeneration or if you’ve had vision changes lately, don’t delay in scheduling an appointment at Valley Eye Professionals. Call to make an appointment, or use our online scheduling tool.

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