Retinal Ganglion Cell, Optic Nerve Function Worse in Wet Than Dry AMD

LONG BEACH, CA – APRIL 01: LONG BEACH, CALIF. USA –Tony Urbiha gets an injection from Dr. Stanley Carson in his Long Beach, Calif. office on June 8, 2011. Urbiha suffers from macular degeneration. Just a few years ago, people of all ages who had the degenerative eye disease were told that they would eventually go blind. Then came a breakthrough, a treatment that seems to halt and sometimes even slightly reverse the condition in one kind of macular degeneration. The treatments include frequent shots in the eyeball to prevents the progression of the disease. Patients come at regular intervals, and special cameras show the condition of the retina and whether a shot is required at that visit. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
Researchers assess the function and structure of optic nerves and macular ganglion cells in patients with unilateral wet AMD non-advanced dry AMD in the fellow eye.

Wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is associated with poorer optic nerve and retinal ganglion cell functional parameters compared with dry AMD, according to results of a cross-sectional study published in Clinical Ophthalmology.

Patients (N=52) with unilateral wet AMD who had non-advanced dry AMD in the fellow eye were recruited for this study between 2020 and 2021 at the Medical University of Poznań in Poland. The dry AMD eyes were used as the comparator group. Eyes underwent morphological assessment using optical coherence tomography and functional assessment using electroretinogram.

The study population included 31 women (aged mean 73.23±7.60 years and 21 men (aged mean 71.71±7.13 years.

In the multivariate linear regression analysis using the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) as the dependent variable, significant differences were observed for age (β, -0.34; P =.019) and best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA; β, -12.77; P =.031). Using superior RNFL as the dependent variable, only age was significant (β, -0.44; P =.035). Temporal RNFL was associated with gender (β, -6.16; P =.012) and BCVA (β, -17.29; P =.013). For nasal RNFL, the number of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) injections had significant effects (β, 0.536; P =.023).

In the 2-factor linear regression model using pattern visual evoked potential implicit time as the dependent variable, wet and dry classification was significant (β, 10.06; P =.014). For the ganglion cell layer, a significant association was found for age (β, -0.24; P =.004). Pattern electroretinogram amplitude was related with wet and dry classification (β, -1.04; P =.005).

This study was limited by its small sample size and by not stratifying patients by type of anti-VEGF medication.

“Our study demonstrates that wAMD is characterized by worse functional parameters than non-advanced dAMD, with lack of significant differences in anatomical (RNFL, ganglion cell layer) parameters between both groups. Moreover, the number of anti-VEGF injections administered does not contribute to these differences,” study authors report.


Wichrowska M, Wichrowski P, Kocięcki J. Morphological and functional assessment of the optic nerve head and retinal ganglion cells in dry vs chronically treated wet age-related macular degeneration. Clin Ophthalmol. 2022;16:2373-2384 doi:10.2147/OPTH.S372626.