Macular Degeneration Prognosis - What to Expect

Many people write asking questions about what to expect once they've received a diagnosis of age related macular degeneration (AMD). Questions like:

1. Can the eye disease travel from one eye to the other?

2. If I have dry macular degeneration in one eye and the other eye has no signs of it, will the other eye eventually develop AMD?

3. If I have wet macular degneration in one eye and dry in the other, will the dry one become wet?

For the majority of people age related macular degeneration (AMD) progresses slowly and affects only the central vision. It is not blindness. You still have peripheral or side vision. The most important factor for your macular degeneration prognosis will be if you have dry macular degeneration or if you have the wet form, also known as choroidal neovascularization.

Dry Macular Degeneration

Almost 85-90% of those with macular degeneration have the dry or atrophic form. The progression of dry macular degeneration is slow and and may take years for it to worsen.

However, the dry form can turn into the wet form... and it can turn into the wet form very suddenly, even if you have early stage AMD. All those with wet AMD had the dry form first. There is no way to tell if or when the dry form will turn into the wet form

Wet Macular Degeneration

Only 10%-15% of AMD cases are the wet or exudative form. Wet AMD causes loss of central vision much quicker than the dry form ...and each eye can have a different form of macular degeneration. So one eye may lose central vision quicker than the other eye. Why does the wet form cause more severe vision loss?

In wet AMD, blood vessels that are weak and fragile grow from the choroid layer (a layer of tissue under the macula) and they leak blood and fluid. This damages the cone cells in the macula. The macula is a very small little spot in the retina which is responsible for your straight ahead vision. This little spot is only about 5% of your retina - however it is responsible for 35% of your visual field.

Dr. Michael A. Samuel, ophthalmologist and author of Macular Degeneration: A Complete Guide for Patients and Their Families writes, "There's usually no way to know, once symptoms appear, how fast the disease will progress. You can go for years with a mild case of dry AMD, only to wake up one morning with drastic changes that indicate the onset of wet AMD."

To learn more about the factors that contribute to the progression of dry and wet macular degeneration or to read about the experiences of others who have this retinal disease click here: Macular Degeneration Prognosis

Thanks so much for subscribing to Macular Degeneration News.

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN

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