What are the different types of age related macular degeneration (AMD)?

AMD can be classified as ‘early’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘late’. In early and intermediate AMD, there may be no vision loss and there may be no symptoms.

Early and intermediate AMD are often picked up in a routine eye examination by the optometrist due to the presence of drusen at the macular area.

There are two main types of late or advanced AMD, ‘dry’ AMD and ‘wet’ AMD.


Is the more common type of AMD. Dry AMD develops very slowly and causes a gradual change in your central vision. It usually takes a long time – sometimes years, to get to its final stage. At its worst, dry AMD causes a dark or missing area in the centre of your vision in both of your eyes. It doesn’t affect your peripheral vision, so it never leads to total blindness. Some people with this stage of AMD may go on to develop the wet form of AMD.


About 10 to 15 per cent of people who develop late AMD have wet AMD, often having had dry AMD to begin with.

You develop wet AMD when the cells of the macula stop working correctly and your body starts growing new blood vessels to fix the problem. As these blood vessels grow in the wrong place, they cause swelling and bleeding underneath the macula – this is why it’s called wet AMD. It causes more damage to your macula and eventually leads to scarring, which can damage your central vision. 

Wet AMD can develop very quickly, causing serious changes to your central vision in a short period of time, over days or weeks.

Treatment is available for wet AMD. This treatment usually needs to be given quickly, if the blood vessels are left to grow, the scarring and the sight loss they cause is usually permanent. Wet AMD doesn’t affect your peripheral vision, so it doesn’t lead to total blindness.

Please also see What is age related macular degeneration (AMD)?

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