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Dry vs Wet Macular Degeneration

aged man with an eyeglass

Dry vs Wet Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is one of the most prevalent eye diseases that is responsible for causing blindness in patients above the age of 50. It is an eye disorder that affects the macula, a part of the retina responsible for central vision. The macula is important for daily tasks like reading, driving, and the ability to recognise facial features. Any impairment of the macula therefore severely curtails a person’s quality of life.


There are two distinct types of macular degeneration, dry and wet macular degeneration. Both types result in vision loss but there are significant differences in their causes, symptoms, and treatments.


Learn More: Everything You Need to Know about Age Related Macular Degeneration

Wet vs Dry Macular Degeneration

Dry macular degeneration is the more common form of age-related macular degeneration, accounting for about 90% of all cases. It occurs when the macula thins and breaks down, leading to the loss of central vision. This type of macular degeneration progresses slowly and is typically characterised by the presence of yellowish deposits called drusen in the macula.


Wet macular degeneration, also known as neovascular macular degeneration, is less common but typically more severe. It occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the retina, causing fluid and blood to leak into the macula. This can result in rapid and significant central vision loss. Wet macular degeneration progresses quickly, often leading to legal blindness within months if left untreated.


Both dry and wet macular degeneration exhibit similar symptoms, but wet macular degeneration tends to cause more rapid and severe vision loss. Both types of macular degeneration can cause:


  • Blurred or distorted central vision

  • Decreased ability to see fine details

  • Loss of colour vision

  • Difficulty adapting to low light environments

  • A dark spot or empty spot in the centre of your vision


Currently, there is no cure for macular degeneration. However, there are several eye treatments in Singapore that are available which can slow the progression of the disease and help preserve vision.

Dry Macular Degeneration

For patients who have dry macular degeneration, treatment involves managing the symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease. This may include:


  • Monitoring: Regular eye exams can help detect changes in vision and allow for early diagnosis and intervention

  • Lifestyle adjustments: Eating a healthy diet with dark, green leafy vegetables and coloured fruit, exercising often, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight can help slow the progression of macular degeneration

  • Supplements: Studies have shown that vitamin and mineral supplements, such as vitamins C and E, zinc, and copper, may help slow the progression of dry macular degeneration. They may be able to prevent intermediate stages of macular degeneration from turning into late stage macular degeneration.


Wet Macular Degeneration

When it comes to wet macular degeneration, prompt eye treatment is critical to prevent irreversible vision loss.


  • Anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) injections: Anti-VEGF drugs are injected into the eye to stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels and reduce fluid leakage. These injections are typically administered every four to six weeks and may slow the progression of this disease. Anti-VEGF drugs are usually considered as the first line of treatment for wet macular degeneration.

  • Laser therapy: Laser therapy is used to destroy abnormal blood vessels and stop fluid leakage. This treatment is typically reserved for individuals with small or localised blood vessel growth.

  • Photodynamic therapy: This treatment involves injecting a light-sensitive drug into the bloodstream and then shining a laser into the eye to activate the drug and destroy abnormal blood vessels.

  • Rehabilitation: Age-related macular degeneration doesn’t impact your side vision and patients do not experience total blindness. Hence it may be useful to undergo low vision rehabilitation and occupational therapy to allow individuals to adapt to their limited vision.


Dry and wet macular degeneration are two types of macular degeneration that differ in various ways. Dry macular degeneration is more common and the best way to prevent it, is to adopt the right lifestyle habits. 


Dry macular degeneration also progresses slowly over time and supplements may decrease the impact of this disease even more. Wet macular degeneration progresses more rapidly and aggressive interventions may be required.


For patients, it is important to attend regular eye exams as you get older and to immediately seek consultation with an ophthalmologist if any vision changes are experienced. Early diagnosis of many eye conditions almost always lead to significantly improved outcomes.


Dr Eugene Tay is an experienced and compassionate Ophthalmologist with over 20 years of experience in the medical field. Contact Nova Eye Centre today to learn more about the various eye care services we provide and to book an appointment with us.

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