Macular Degeneration Home > Types of Macular Degeneration

There are two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry. Of the two types, the wet form is the more severe. Dry macular degeneration occurs in three stages (early, intermediate, and advanced), while wet macular degeneration occurs only in the advanced state. Both types can lead to vision loss. Also, dry macular degeneration has the ability to turn into wet macular degeneration.

An Introduction to the Types of Macular Degeneration

There are two types of age-related macular degeneration: wet and dry. About 90 percent of people with macular degeneration have what's known as the "dry" type, and the remaining 10 percent have the "wet" type.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. These new blood vessels tend to be very fragile, and often leak blood and fluid. The blood and fluid raise the macula from its normal place at the back of the eye. Damage to the macula occurs rapidly.
With wet macular degeneration, loss of central vision can occur quickly. Wet macular degeneration is a more advanced form of the disease, and is more severe than dry macular degeneration.
An early symptom of wet macular degeneration is straight lines appearing wavy. If you notice this condition or other changes to your vision, contact your eye care professional at once. You need a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
Dry Macular Degeneration
Dry macular degeneration occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. As dry macular degeneration gets worse, you may see a blurred spot in the center of your vision. Over time, as less of the macula functions, central vision in the affected eye can be gradually lost.
The most common symptom of dry macular degeneration is slightly blurred vision. You might have difficulty recognizing faces. You may need more light for reading and other tasks. Dry macular degeneration generally affects both eyes, but vision can be lost in one eye while the other eye seems unaffected.
One of the most common early indications of dry macular degeneration is drusen. Drusen are yellow deposits under the retina. They often are found in people over age 60. Your eye care professional can detect drusen during a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
Dry macular degeneration has three stages, all of which may occur in one or both eyes:
  • Early dry macular degeneration
  • Intermediate dry macular degeneration
  • Advanced dry macular degeneration.
Early Dry Macular Degeneration
People with early dry macular degeneration have either several small drusen or a few medium-sized drusen. At this stage, there are no macular degeneration symptoms and no vision loss.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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