Dry age-related macular degeneration

Dry age-related macular degeneration (dry AMD) is the most common form of AMD, accounting for 9 out of 10 cases of AMD.1 Doctors may also refer to dry AMD as nonexudative AMD.

Dry AMD may begin with the buildup of yellowish white deposits under the retina called drusen. Over time, the deposits grow together and harden and may interfere with the normal function of the retina and the support cells (retinal pigment epithelium, or RPE) beneath it. Parts of the macula and the support cells beneath the macula become thinner or break down. The blood vessels in the choroidal layer beneath the macula and retina may also stop working. This process is called atrophy. The breakdown of these eye tissues damages the cells in the macula that provide central vision.

  • Dry AMD tends to develop slowly.
  • Vision loss is often gradual and usually not severe.
  • It usually begins in just one eye and may or may not develop in the other eye.
  • People with dry AMD sometimes develop wet AMD, which is much more severe.

There is no treatment for dry AMD, but it often does not cause enough vision loss to upset a person's regular lifestyle.


  1. Arnold J (2006). Age-related macular degeneration, search date March 2005. Online version of Clinical Evidence (15).

Last Updated: August 4, 2009

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