The Two Types of Macular Degeneration And How To Prevent or Treat Them

The most common cause of loss of eyesight is a condition known as Macular Degeneration. It is caused by a breakdown or damage to the macula, the oval-shaped part of the eye located near the middle of the retina. Macular Degeneration leads to the blurriness or distortion of central vision. Atrophic or dry Macular Degeneration is the most common form of this condition and it is brought on by damage to the layer of pigment below the retina. As this pigment protects and provides nutrition to the retina, damage to it causes the retina to function improperly. Atrophic Macular Degeneration is a slowly progressive condition, and can lead to severe loss of vision.

Actually all forms of Macular Degeneration (MD) begin as the “dry” type. It eventually develops to the more aggressive exudative or “wet” type in 10 to 15 percent of cases. In the wet type of MD, abnormal blood vessels which leak blood or fluid develop under the macula. Eyesight loss due to the “wet” type of MD is usually severe and more rapid compared to the “dry” type. Both eyes are almost always affected in MD, although oftentimes one eye tends to be more advanced in the process of deterioration than the other and some cases will have one eye with the “wet” type and the other with the “dry” type.

Macular Degeneration (especially age-related MD or AMD) is the most common cause of vision loss; however, scientists still do not what exactly causes this condition. It usually occurs around the ages of 60 to 65 although there have been instances where people in their 40s and 50s have been diagnosed with this condition. AMD can be a hereditary disease, which means that people with relatives who have this condition are at risk to also develop the disease.

The “dry” type of AMD is usually the most diagnosed type of AMD which usually develops very slowly. In the “dry” type, there is a buildup of drusen (yellowish deposits) below one part of the retina causing this part of the eye to malfunction. This condition affects the macula or central part of the retina resulting in Macular Degeneration. The layer of cells that are sensitive to light also gets thinner making your vision blurry or distorted especially when you read. The “dry” type of AMD usually affects only one eye but, in time, the other eye eventually also gets affected. However, total blindness is rare for people suffering from the “dry” type of AMD.

The “wet type of AMD is also known as neovascular AMD and occurs because of the growth of new blood vessels under the macula that begin to leak weakening and killing the cells near it. This affects your eyesight causing you to see blank spots within the vision field and straight lines looking curved. If the leaking is not addressed, within weeks or months, it will eventually destroy most of the nerve tissue. Modern medicine is still unable to repair this damage. Only a tiny percentage of AMD patients develop this “wet” neovascular type of AMD. Macular Degeneration is called Stargardt’s Disease when it develops in young people (ages 7 to early teens). It has the same characteristics as the “dry” form of MD.


For people suffering from Macular Degeneration, you can do some things that will help slow down the development of this disease. One of these things is to combine changes in your lifestyle with the taking of supplements.

1. Develop the habit of consuming fresh vegetables each day and avoid eating dried, canned, and frozen vegetables.
2. Try eating different foods each day and when you plan your food, try to make it as colorful as possible.
3. To maintain good blood quality, take fish oil every day.
4. Take mineral and vitamin supplements every day. To help your cholesterol buildup, take 1.2 grams of lecithin every day. We also recommend that you try acupuncture treatment for vision loss.
5. Get vision field scannings to monitor the development of your MD. This can help you determine the degree of the damage and map the area that’s affected. You can also obtain a near visual acuity card to test your vision in reading regularly. You can also use an amsler grid to see if your MD has changed from a “dry” to a “wet” type.
6. Schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist on a regular basis.
7. Cut down on your salt intake, drink lots of water every day and make it a habit to exercise daily. Since MD begins with a buildup of plaque in the arteries, it is important that you protect your heart and your eyes by eating right and exercising every day.

Ni Nan Gilbert is a licensed acupuncturist in Bellmore, NY, practicing acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Western medical pathology. She is also the founder of Ni Nan Healing Art Center.