Wet age-related macular degeneration, or wet AMD, is a serious type of chronic eye condition that may lead to vision loss.

As you age, the macula, a small portion of your eye located in the middle of your retina, may become damaged. The macula is important because it’s responsible for helping you see people, text, and objects clearly. It’s responsible for your central vision. Damage to the macula may occur in different ways.

The more common type of macular degeneration is called dry AMD. This is caused by the accumulation of material under the retina, which leads to the thinning of the macula.

In about 10% of cases, dry AMD may progress and become wet AMD. Wet AMD causes abnormal blood vessels to grow and leak beneath the retina, resulting in scarring of the macula. This is also called choroidal neovascularization (CNV).

Read on to learn answers to some of the important questions you have about wet AMD-related vision loss so you can discuss this information with your eye doctor.

Either type of AMD will primarily affect your central vision because of the way your macula may be damaged or scarred.

AMD’s impact on central vision means that you may not be able to see the details in the items you’re looking at or may have a difficult time with changes in lighting.

Your central vision is responsible for being able to see straight on, particularly details within everyday objects, texts on a screen or paper, and people. It also allows you to see objects both up close and far away.

While AMD causes central vision loss, your side (peripheral) is not impacted.

It’s possible to develop blindness from AMD, particularly if your case is more advanced and if you have the wet form of this disease.

Dry AMD can lead to more gradual vision loss, but wet versions are more likely to cause acute blindness. In fact, while wet AMD represents only 10% of AMD cases, it results in 90% of all AMD blindness cases.

AMD remains the most common cause of vision loss in adults over the age of 50. Although wet AMD isn’t the most common form, it causes faster vision loss.

While there’s no exact timeline to predict vision loss from AMD, the effects of wet forms can be so rapid that you may notice symptoms in as little as one day. Without treatment, wet AMD can cause permanent vision loss within several weeks or months.

For this reason, prompt treatment is necessary before vision loss worsens over the next several weeks.

Early signs may impact your central vision, where you may notice that your overall vision is blurred or distorted. Sometimes, AMD or CNV that causes wet AMD is caught during a regular eye exam before you notice any symptoms.

While permanent vision loss is a serious complication of AMD, not every case leads to blindness. However, your risk may be greater with wet AMD.

Regular vision exams and prompt treatment, including vitamins, anti-VEGF injections, and surgical options, can help to identify, slow, or improve vision loss due to AMD.

Wet AMD may also be considered “active” or “inactive.” If your condition is considered inactive, this means you’ve received treatment to target leaking blood vessels beneath your retina, and there is no active bleeding.

Your vision may improve with treatment, but you’ll need regular checkups and subsequent therapies to maintain your results.

AMD can distort the way you perceive text, both on screens as well as on paper. This means you may have more difficulty reading books, as well as information on your smartphone and computer.

While having wet AMD doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t read, having blind spots in your vision can make reading more difficult every day. You may also need to allow yourself more time to get through reading materials.

To make reading easier with AMD, you may find that a reading lamp, larger texts, or a magnifying glass can help. You may also talk with your doctor about working with a low-vision specialist to help navigate activities of daily living.

Eventually, macular degeneration can make it difficult to drive. Wet AMD may impair driving for a few reasons. Your eye physician can give you an assessment of your ability to drive safely.

First, changes in your vision can make it increasingly difficult to see during certain times of the day when natural sunlight changes. If you’re driving during sunset, for example, you may find that it takes you more time to adjust to the dark.

Blind spots in your vision caused by AMD may also decrease your ability to see objects, such as other vehicles, in front of you. You may also have difficulty seeing pedestrians and cyclists on the road. It’s important to monitor these vision changes and consider how they impact the safety of driving for you and others.

It isn’t possible to reverse vision damage caused by AMD. That said, while wet AMD may increase your risk of vision loss and blindness, early detection and treatment can help decrease such complications.

These treatments include lifestyle changes, medications, and, in some cases, surgery. There’s also ongoing research on new treatments.

Read more about treatments for wet AMD and wet AMD progression.

AMD is a progressive eye condition, with wet versions causing more acute vision problems than dry ones. However, early treatment can improve the outlook with wet AMD. It’s important to see your eye doctor for your regular exams and to carefully follow your treatment plan.

If you notice sudden changes in your vision, such as blurriness, distortion, or blind spots, see your eye doctor right away. If you have macular degeneration, you should have an Amsler Grid at home for self-monitoring and report to your doctor if you notice any changes.