Wet age-related macular degeneration

Wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) is far less common but much more harmful to a person's vision than dry AMD. Only about 1 out of 10 people with macular degeneration has wet AMD.1 But wet AMD accounts for 9 out of 10 cases of blindness caused by the disease.2

Doctors may also refer to wet AMD as neovascular, exudative, or disciform AMD.

Wet AMD often develops in areas of dry AMD when breaks develop in the deeper layers of the retina and abnormal blood vessels grow into these breaks (choroidal neovascularization). The abnormal blood vessels are fragile and leak blood and fluid under the macula. They also cause abnormal scar tissue to form under the macula and distort the shape and position of the macula.

  • Wet AMD may affect one or both eyes.
  • Vision loss usually develops rapidly.
  • Vision loss is often severe and always permanent.

People rarely go completely blind from the disease, because it does not affect side (peripheral) vision. But wet AMD can cause a severe or even a total loss of central vision. In some cases, treatment may slow down or delay vision loss, but it is not usually effective over the long term.

Citations

  1. Arnold J (2006). Age-related macular degeneration, search date March 2005. Online version of Clinical Evidence (15).
  2. American Academy of Ophthalmology (2008). Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Preferred Practice Pattern). San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology. Available online: http://one.aao.org/CE/PracticeGuidelines/PPP.aspx.

Last Updated: August 4, 2009

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