December 14, 2020

Dry Eye and Dry Macular Degeneration Are Different Conditions

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Dry Eye and Dry Macular Degeneration Are Different Conditions

Some people are confusing the eye conditions called “dry eye disease” and “dry age-related macular degeneration” (dry AMD). The confusion is understandable, but the two conditions are nothing alike. 

Dry eye disease occurs when tears are not sufficient enough to provide necessary lubrication for the eyes. This problem can lead to inflammation and damage of the cornea covering the front of the eyeball. Treatments include behavioral or environmental changes and/or eyedrops to relieve stinging and burning. Dry eye disease properly treated will not progress to permanent vision loss.

Conversely, dry AMD effects the retina, which lines the inside back of the eyeball. The result of aging and thinning of the retinal tissue, dry AMD can lead to gradual impairment of central vision in senior adults. The term “dry” differentiates it from “wet” AMD, wherein blood vessels grow and leak into the retina. No medical treatment or cure for dry AMD is yet available, but good research is progressing in the areas of pharmacology, genetics, and stem cell therapeutics. 

Clarification of the terminology is important at the time of diagnosis, since treatment and care for each disease is vastly different, not to mention the emotional upset that can be caused by misunderstanding.

For more information about dry eye disease, see:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-eyes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371863

For more information about dry AMD research, see:

https://lowvision.preventblindness.org/2013/05/30/a-guide-to-research-in-dry-amd/

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