What Is Wet Macular Degeneration?
by Isobel Washington
Macular degeneration, typically referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is the number one cause of blindness among Americans of age 65 and older, according to AllAboutVision.com
Wet (neovascular) macular degeneration and dry (non-neovascular) macular degeneration are the two types of AMD. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation reports that wet macular degeneration accounts for approximately 10 to 15 percent of AMD cases.
The macula is the part of the retina (the back part of the eye that sends visual messages to the brain) responsible for acute, central vision required for reading or driving. This tissue thins with age and can collect dislodged pieces of membrane, which affects vision ability.
Wet AMD is the later stage of macular degeneration (progressing from dry AMD) and poses high risk for vision loss. Abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the macula and may leak fluid, causing the macula to bulge outward and/or begin to lift.
The bulging macular tissue caused by the abnormal blood vessels leads to distorted central vision, followed by possible rapid and severe destruction of vision, which, in some cases, may occur too quickly to be treated at the wet macular degeneration stage.
Patients may first see blind spots and dark spots in the center of their vision. Straight lines may appear wavy. Vision impairment worsens quickly, according to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation.
AllAboutVision.com reports that there is no outright cure for AMD, but FDA-approved drugs are available, and aim to stop abnormal blood vessel growth. These medications, as well as laser treatment, can preserve and sustain vision, but no wet AMD treatment can restore vision that has already been lost to the disease.