Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over age 50, and one of the most common eye diseases that we see at our Olympia optometry clinic. In this blog we will discuss the difference between dry and wet macular degeneration in this blog.

Both types affect the macular region of your retina at the back of the eye. This part of your retina is responsible for your color vision, your central vision, and the details you see in your vision.


Typically, the dry form of macular degeneration has less severe symptoms, and you might not notice any symptoms at all. Dry macular degeneration produces little waste deposits under your retina called drusens, which indicates that the retina in that area isn't functioning properly. It is very important to have early detection of dry macular degeneration, as it can enable our eye doctors to help you prevent permanent vision loss.


With wet macular degeneration, there are unstable new blood vessels that end up growing into the retina and these blood vessels tend to leak fluid and blood and affect your vision more severely.

Most patients with macular degeneration have the dry form, with only a small percentage that convert to wet forms. Wet form of AMD can have more adverse and irreversible effects on your central vision.

What Symptoms can Macular Degeneration Cause?

  • Blurry vision
  • Straight lines may appear distorted
  • Decreased contrast sensitivity
  • Decreased visual acuity
  • It may be difficult to recognize faces
  • Adapting to dim lighting is difficult
  • Reading may become more strained or even impossible
  • Recognizing faces or driving can become a challenge

You should visit our clinic if you are experiencing symptoms that may indicate macular degeneration, this is even more so applicable to patients over the age of 60 or who have family history of macular degeneration. It is crucial that you schedule a medical eye exam with our doctor so that they can make sure that you have early detection, or if you have been diagnosed that your condition is not progressing which can cause permanent vision loss.

How is an Amsler Grid Used for Macular Degeneration?

Most patients with AMD are monitored with a grid called an Amsler grid. The process involves closing one eye and looking at the dot in the center of the grid one eye at a time, looking for any blurry or distorted portions of your vision. You should then check with the other eye. Because the changes occur one eye at a time, the other eye compensates pretty well for the affected eye, so you should do this periodically.

What Can You do to Slow Down the Progression of Macular Degeneration?

With macular degeneration, there is nothing that can be done to completely get rid of the waste or damage that has occurred. But there are a few things you can do to prevent or slow down its progression.

  • Protection from UV light - You should wear sunglasses because UV light can cause macular degeneration to progress and deteriorate your vision.
  • AREDS2 - AREDS2, which is a multivitamin developed specifically for macular degeneration based on a study called the age related eye disease study 2 (AREDS2) which demonstrated the effectiveness of these nutrients at slowing down deterioration of the macula. However, they are most effective at a certain stage of the condition. To find out if they are beneficial for you, speak to our eye doctor at American Family Vision Clinic. Learn more about AREDS2 study.
  • Smoking - Another factor associated with macular degeneration is smoking. Smokers are believed to have a three-fold increased risk of progression. Smoking is going to affect your retinal health the most, so try to avoid it or cut back as much as you can.
  • Anti-VEGF injections - A few aggressive treatments are available to stop the leakage of blood vessels, since it is important to stop the blood vessels from leaking. The most common kind of treatment at this point is injections into the eye, which sounds scary. Before the injections are administered, the eye is numbed to prevent pain during the treatment.The medication goes directly into the back part of the eye where the macular is, and has an effect on the leaking blood vessels. There are usually some very good results in terms of preventing the leak and preventing damage to occur in the back of the eye. Currently, these anti-VEGF injections are recommended to be administered every four to six weeks. Research is underway to develop anti-VEGF treatments that will not require frequent administration.

What is a Low Vision Evaluation and How Can That Help Someone Who Has Vision Loss From Macular Degeneration?

If a person has permanent vision loss due to macular degeneration, or any eye disease or condition, they should schedule a low vision evaluation with a low vision optometrist. Not to be confused with a retinal specialist or ophthalmologist, whose job it is to ensure that the disease does not get worse, a low vision optometrist’s goal is to help the patient find the right tools, resources,treatments,  and devices that will enable that patient to have the best possible vision that they are capable of. At the early stages of macular degeneration, a low vision optometrist will spend a lot of time helping the patient understand the changes that they are experiencing. However as their vision deteriorates, they will spend the time with our low vision optometrist or low vision therapist to determine the most effective options.

Get superior care when you schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam at our trusted optometry clinic in Olympia, serving patients from the surrounding areas including Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey. Call (360) 491-2121 or fill out this form to make an appointment today.
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