What is wet AMD (wet macular degeneration)?

Submitted by Elman Retina Group on January 28, 2016

The number one cause of vision loss is a condition known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It’s been estimated that as many as 10 million people in the United States are currently dealing with this disease.

AMD and the Eye

The back of your eye is lined with a delicate tissue called the retina.  The retina records visual images and sends this information to the brain via the optic nerve.  At the center of the retina is a spot called the macula. The macula is critical for visual tasks such as reading, seeing fine detail, recognizing faces and driving.

With AMD, the macula slowly and progressively degenerates. Over time, this leads to symptoms including:

  • Blurry vision
  • Central vision loss (typically, a person’s peripheral vision remains intact)
  • Blind spots in the visual field

In the most advanced stages of the disease, a person may become legally blind.

Wet Macular Degeneration–What is it?

There are two main types of AMD, both of which are related to advancing age.  One type is known as atrophic or “dry” AMD.  Severe vision loss is uncommon with dry AMD.  The other less common type of AMD, which occurs in 10 per cent of patients, is called exudative or “wet” macular degeneration.  With wet macular degeneration, the macula begins to deteriorate because of the abnormal growth of small blood vessels behind the retina. These newly growing blood vessels are weak and can leak fluid or bleed. This disrupts the function of the retinal cells and eventually creates a scar, permanently damaging the macula and fine, central vision.

Treatments for Wet Macular Degeneration

Wet macular degeneration cannot be cured, but it can be managed, especially when diagnosed in the early phases of the disease. Injections of anti-VEGF medications can reverse vision damage in early cases and stop the progression of disease in most cases.

Certain subtle examination findings in the back of the retina can identify eyes at risk for progression to wet AMD.  Anti-oxidant supplements can reduce this risk, as we found in two major national clinical research studies.  In addition, the Elman Retina Group pioneered the ForeseeHome telemedicine system to pick up wet AMD before symptoms occur and vision has been lost.

The Elman Retina Group pioneered many of the treatments used in treating this disease.  We work with many patients struggling with macular degeneration or at risk for the disease. We provide quality eye health services in a friendly and supportive environment, and treat each patient with comprehensive, empathetic, and individualized care. If you have AMD, or are concerned about vision loss, call us today.