Wet vs Dry Macular Degeneration

11th June 2024
Elderly blue eye

Age-related macular degeneration is a condition that affects older adults which can impact vision. There are two types, wet and dry. Both types involve different treatment methods and approaches to best monitor them. In this guide, we explain the differences between wet and dry AMD, their symptoms and treatment options.

What is AMD?

Macular degeneration (MD) is a term we use that covers a number of conditions that affect the macula.

The most common forms tends to affect people as they get older, which is known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Approximately one in 10 over 60s have signs of AMD. Younger people less commonly have MD, if they do it could be caused by a genetic condition.

As we age, the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for clear central vision, can degenerate which in turn can affect its function. This can lead to reduced central vision often making everyday activities like reading, watching TV and driving more challenging. Macular degenerative is the leading cause of sight loss in the UK.


You may have heard the term ‘dry eye’ before but this is not to be confused with dry AMD. Dry AMD occurs when the macula develops yellow deposits, known as drusen, leading to the gradual breakdown of light-sensitive cells. It is the more common type of AMD and tends to progress slowly. It can start in one eye or may develop in both eyes at the same time. Most people with early AMD have near normal vision but this can change if the condition progresses. Late-stage dry AMD is called geographic atrophy which involves the thinning of the macula.


Late AMD can progress from dry to wet AMD. Wet AMD is less common, and it is caused by leakage of fluid by abnormal blood vessels that grow behind the macula. Wet AMD often causes changes in vision that can progress quickly, so treatment is needed as soon as possible.

Symptoms of AMD

As AMD progresses it can affect the central part of your vision, not your peripheral vision. It may occur in just one eye so it is important to regularly check your vision in each eye separately by covering one eye at a time whilst wearing glasses if applicable. You may experience the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or distorted vision 
  • Patches missing/ a smudge in the middle of your vision 
  • Colours may seem slightly faded
  • Becoming more sensitive to bright light
  • Finding it harder to adapt from a dark to light environment.
  • Straight lines may appear distorted or wavy.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is best to book an appointment with an Optometrist as soon as possible.


At Dipple and Conway, our expert Optometrists will thoroughly examine your eyes to determine the cause of your symptoms and find the most suitable route for treatment, if necessary and/or advise you on ways to protect yourself against further progression of the condition.


If you have been diagnosed with AMD, the type of treatment you receive will depend on the type of AMD you have.

Dry AMD Treatment

For dry AMD there is currently no cure but if early AMD is detected your Optometrist can give you advice on checking your vision and offer advice on lifestyle changes that may help slow the progression if the condition.

Photobiomodulation (PBM), is a new light-based technology that has shown promising results in studies that may slow down the rate of visual loss in some suitable candidates, for more information speak to your Optometrist.

Wet AMD Treatment

For wet AMD, it can often be treated if caught early enough. The treatment tends to involve injecting a drug into the gel inside your eye which acts by shrinking the new blood vessels that have formed and decrease leakage of fluid into the macula. This often must be repeated regularly but thankfully this treatment is available on the NHS.

If signs of wet AMD are detected by your Optometrist they can refer you to an Ophthalmologist to see if treatment is appropriate.

Book Eye Appointment

Taking care of your eyes is essential. If you are diagnosed with AMD, early detection and appropriate treatment can help preserve your vision and maintain your quality of life. If you have any concerns about your vision, don’t hesitate to contact us or book an appointment.

Posted by Dipple Conway

"I’m very impressed by the friendly and helpful attitude of the staff at Dipple and Conway, and by the very competent and professional service my optometrist provided. It really is a pleasure to ones eyes tested there."

Mike Lindsay
Optician Awards Finalist Investor in People The College of Optometrists British Contact Lens Association Association of Dispensing Opticians Best Family Business 2020

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