Bright Sight

Oliver Backhouse, Consultant Eye Surgeon

What's the difference between wet & dry macular change?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the number one cause of legal blindness in people over the age of 55 in the UK. The macular, the central area of retina responsible for reading and detailed vision, is particularly susceptible to degeneration as we age. Although mild AMD causes few symptoms, progression leads to devastating central visual loss, limiting a person’s ability to read, recognise faces and drive.

There are two forms of AMD – Wet and Dry.

Wet AMD: About 10% of people with AMD develop the wet form of the disease. This happens when abnormal blood vessels develop in the eye wall beneath the macular. Untreated, leakage of fluid and blood causes rapid deterioration of sight leading to permanent scarring. Early detection offers hope of treatment to control the disease process before too much damage is done. With time, leakage stops and a dry scar remains. Both Laser and injections into the eye of Avastin or Lucentis can help early on.

Dry AMD: About 90% of people with AMD have the dry form of the disease. This is simply wear and tear, with no abnormal blood vessels present. Traditionally, there has been no effective means of improving vision for this overwhelming majority of sufferers apart from some benefit from magnification aids or magnifying glasses. The IOL-VIP can now help some people with AMD.

For all types of macular change stopping smoking can help as well as increasing your intake of orange fruit and vegetables and dark green leafed vegetables. These contain Lutein which has been shown to help slow down macular change in some people. Lutein can also be found in a tablet form – Ocuvite has been used the most.