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 thinning of the macula, as well as a resulting protein growth.
In about 10 percent 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).
While wet AMD may increase your risk of vision loss and blindness, early detection and treatment can help decrease such complications.
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.
Yes, either type of AMD affects your central vision because of the way your macula may be damaged or scarred. AMD’s effects on central vision mean 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.
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 1 day. Prompt treatment is necessary before vision loss worsens over the next several weeks.
Early signs may cause impacts to 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.
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.
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 everyday reading more difficult. 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 safely drive.
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 the 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.
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.