Wet Macular Degeneration: An Overview

Nishi Kashyap
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Wet Macular Degeneration

There are two types of age-related macular degeneration disorders-wet and dry. 

Wet macular degeneration is the more severe and less common of the two. 

Even though it accounts for around 10% of all AMD cases, it is also the cause of 90% of serious vision loss problems, according to Nature. 

Its symptoms include seeing a straight line curved.

Although doctors cannot cure it, some treatment options exist to stop further vision loss.

Early detection of this disorder may help restore your vision entirely.

Wet macular degeneration

Wet AMD is a  long-lasting eye disorder that results in blurred vision and blind spots in the central vision.

Macula is a part of the eye that gives clear vision in the central line of sight.

In wet macular degeneration, the macula is affected as the blood vessels leak fluid or blood into it. 

If wet macular degeneration is detected early, it can help reduce vision loss. It may even recover vision in some instances, according to Everyday Health.

Symptoms

These are the symptoms of wet macular degeneration:

  • Straight lines seeming bent or visual distortions
  • Reduced vision in the central line of sight in one or both eyes
  • Need for brightening up the room when doing work like reading or sewing.
  • Difficulty in adjusting to low light, such as when you enter a dimly lit place
  • Blurring of printed words
  • Difficulty in recognizing faces
  • A blind spot or blurry spot in your vision

Also Read: You can go through the article, Macular Degeneration Symptoms: Understanding the Signs.

Note
It does not cause total blindness, as only the central vision is affected due to age-related macular degeneration.

Causes

The exact cause of wet macular degeneration is unknown. However, it primarily develops in people having dry macular degeneration

Wet macular degeneration can develop due to the following:

Irregular growth of blood vessels

The blood vessels grow from the choroid under and into the macula. This is known as choroidal neovascularization. 

The choroid is the layer of blood vessels between the retina and the sclera, which is the outer firm coat of the eye. 

Sometimes these blood vessels may leak, affecting the retina’s functions.

Fluid buildup in the back of the eye

When the fluid leaks from the choroid, it collects between the epithelium and the retina or within the layers of the retina. 

It may cause macular layer irregularities, which may cause distortion or vision loss.

Also Read: If you want to know more about the causes, read What Causes Macular Degeneration?

Diagnosis

Wet Macular DegenerationSource: Ocskaymark_from_Getty_Images
eye checkup

The ophthalmologist will take your complete medical history and give an eye exam to diagnose wet age-related macular degeneration.

Here are some other tests they may perform to check your eyesight:

  • Visual acuity test
    This standard eye chart test will measure your ability to see at different distances.
  • Pupil dilation
    The pupil is widened using eye drops so the ophthalmologist can closely examine the eye’s retina.
  • Fluorescein angiography
    It is used to detect wet age-related macular degeneration. It involves a special dye, which is ejected into the blood vessels in the retina. 
    This helps as the doctor learns if the blood vessels are leaking. Also, they then see if it is treatable or not.
  • Amsler Grid
    In this, a checkerboard-like grid is used to determine if the patient sees the lines in the center of the board as wavy or missing. 
    If they do, it may indicate wet macular degeneration.
Warning
If you see straight lines curved, it may be a sign of Wet macular degeneration. See a doctor as soon as possible if it happens to you.

Treatment

There are some treatment options for wet macular degeneration available you can use to help.

Anti-VEGF therapy

The body makes a protein called Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). 

VEGF helps make new blood vessels in the body. 

Wet macular degeneration happens due to abnormal blood vessels. 

Therefore, using drugs that block VEGF can be treated.

The five main medicine types in this category include:

  • Aflibercept (Eylea)
  • Bevacizumab (Avastin)
  • Brolucizumab (Beovu)
  • Faricimab-svoa (Vabysmo)
  • Ranibizumab (Lucentis)

After your eye has been numbed, the drugs are injected into the eye.

Nutritional supplements

The doctor may also recommend taking a vitamin formula called AREDS2, containing the following:

  • Cupric oxide or copper
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Lutein
  • Zinc oxide
  • Zeaxanthin

AREDS stands for Age-Related Eye Disease Study.

This study found that the combination of vitamins and minerals above helps with dry and wet age-related macular degeneration. 

Researchers then tweaked the formula to bring it to the present form called AREDS 2. 

The supplements in this formula are in a higher dose than regular multivitamins. And it only benefits you if it is at a different level than it regularly is in your diet. 

Photodynamic therapy

It uses a laser and medicine that react to certain types of light.

The drug will be injected into a vein in your arm to start the session. The medicine will then pool into the abnormal blood vessel in the eye. 

Next comes the eyedrop to numb your eyes. When the laser is shone into the eye, it will interact with and activate the medicine. 

It creates clotting in the blood vessel, which closes it and stops more fluids from leaking.

Laser surgery

It is also called laser photocoagulation. Laser surgery is rarely recommended for wet AMD.

It has the same goal as photodynamic therapy: to seal off the blood vessels leaking into the macula.

After the eye drops are put in to numb your eyes, a laser burns parts of the macula. This seals the blood vessels which were leaking.

Also Read: If you are willing to know more about macular degeneration treatments, read, The Road to Recovery: A Guide to Macular Degeneration Treatment.

Wet vs. dry macular degeneration

Wet Macular DegenerationSource: wikimedia_commons
Macular Degeneration

Here is a differences table between wet and dry macular degeneration:

Dry Macular DegenerationWet Macular Degeneration
Accounts for about 90% of the AMD casesAccounts for 10% of the cases
Can become ‘wet’Accounts for 90% of the central visual acuity loss
Drusen form on the maculaNeovascularization of the macula
No angiogenesisVEGF drives angiogenesis
No current treatmentTreated with intravitreal anti-VEGF agents

Wet AMD may be less common but more severe than dry macular degeneration.

Recommended Article:
To know more about Dry Macular Degeneration, check out this article from WowRxPharmacy.

Takeaway

Wet macular degeneration is, thus, one of the two types of age-related macular degeneration. 

Its symptoms include seeing a straight line distorted and an inability to recognize people’s faces.

You can use the AREDS2 formula of supplements to treat this disorder. 

You can also get laser surgery or photodynamic therapy from your ophthalmologist to treat or lessen its symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is wet macular degeneration hereditary?

Genes play a role in wet macular degeneration, according to researchers. This is because several genes are linked to this condition, which makes a person more susceptible to this condition.

Can wet macular degeneration be reversed?

You can use Anti-VEGF therapy, photodynamic therapy and laser therapy to stop Wet macular degeneration from getting worse and even to reverse it.

How quickly does wet macular degeneration progress?

Wet macular degeneration takes around ten years to progress from diagnosis to blindness. It thus spans several years and can be a significant obstacle to clear sight if left untreated.

How wet macular degeneration affects both eyes?

Wet macular degeneration leads to reduced vision in one or both eyes. In the affected eye, it distorts the central image so that you cannot see straight.

Citations:
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