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Types of Macular Degeneration

There are two basic classes or types of macular degeneration called dry and wet macular degeneration. The dry type comprises approximately 85 to 90 percent of macular degeneration cases. This type tends to change slowly over months or years of time. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of people with macular degeneration will develop wet macular degeneration. The wet type of macular degeneration is characterized by bleeding or leaking of blood vessels under the retina. This type of macular degeneration can develop rapidly and cause sudden loss of vision.

Stages of Dry Macular Degeneration

There are three stages of dry age-related macular degeneration which is based on the size and number of drusen present under the retina. Drusen are yellowish deposits of material under the retina. It is thought that these deposits are debris from deterioration of tissue. The other finding is the amount of mottling, clumping, or degeneration of the retinal pigment epithelial layer (RPE layer). This gradual thinning or deterioration of the retinal tissue is the process of macular degeneration. In general terms, it is simply an aging of the macular tissue.

Normal Retina

Normal Retina

Yellowish Spots or Drusen

Yellowish Spots or Drusen

Early ARMD

In this early stage of ARMD there is no loss of vision. There is the presence of medium sized drusen (yellowish deposits under the retina) in the macula.

Medium Sized Drusen

Medium Sized Drusen

Intermediate ARMD

Medium to Large Drusen with Pigment Mottling

Yellowish Spots or Drusen

In this stage of ARMD, there is usually a beginning of loss of vision and/or distorted vision. There are usually large drusen with changes in the retinal pigment epithelium.

Late ARMD

In this stage of ARMD there is the beginning or the existence of significant vision loss. Another term for this stage of ARMD is geographic atrophy (GA). This advanced stage of ARMD occurs in approximately 15 to 20 percent of cases. There is usually a sharply defined area in the macula of hypopigmentation or loss of the retinal pigment epithelium. There can be a complete loss of the RPE layer in advanced cases.

Large Area of Pigment Loss and Scarring

Large Area of Pigment Loss and Scarring

Wet Macular Degeneration

Wet macular degeneration or neovascular (new blood vessels or choroidal neovascularization or CNV) macular degeneration is the more severe and rapid developing type of macular degeneration. In this type of macular degeneration there is the development of abnormal blood vessels under the retina. The vessels are not like normal blood vessels and these leak fluid or bleed under and into the retina. This leaking or bleeding can damage and scar the retina very rapidly.

Until the late stages of macular degeneration, there are no symptoms. It is important to have your eyes examined on a regular basis after age 60, you have a family history of macular degeneration, lifestyle such as a smoker, or a combination of the discussed risk factors. Early detection of macular degeneration is important as there are things that you can do to lower your risk of vision loss from macular degeneration.

Hemorrhage in Macula

Hemorrhage in Macula

Large Area of Hemorrhaging and Fluid

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The Cataract & Refractive
Institute of Florida

James E. Croley III, M.D.

Office Hours

  • Monday

    7:30am – 4:00pm
    Dr. Croley sees patients at 7:30am in Cape Coral.

  • Tuesday

    8:00am – 4:00pm
    Dr. Croley performs surgeries on this day.

  • Wednesday

    7:30am – 4:00pm
    Dr. Croley sees patients at 7:30am in Cape Coral.

  • Thursday

    8:00am – 3:30pm
    Dr. Croley sees patients at 8:30am in Lehigh.

  • Friday

    8:00am – 3:30pm
    Dr. Croley alternates also in Bonita & Cape Coral.

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239-217-1945

239-309-7523

239-734-7767