The retina is the tissue at the back of your eye that senses light. When the retina’s central portion, called the macula, suffers from degeneration it can affect vision. As it is the leading cause of severe, permanent vision loss in people over age 60, it is also called ‘age-related macular degeneration or Wet Macular Degeneration’ (AMD).
While macular degeneration does not cause complete blindness, it can damage a lot of your vision. There are two types of macular degeneration, ‘wet’ and ‘dry’.
In Dry macular degeneration , Yellow deposits, called drusen, develop in the macula. A few small drusen can not cause changes in your vision. However, as they get bigger and more numerous, they may dim or distort your vision, especially when you read. It may begin with blind spots in the center of the vision. As that gets worse, you may lose central vision.
What is Wet Macular Degeneration?
Blood vessels grow from underneath the macula. Due to abnormal growth, these vessels leak and cause damage to your central vision. Your vision gets distorted due to this, straight lines look wavy. In addition, you may also have blind spots and loss of the central vision..
Wet ADM is a lot less common but more severe than dry macular degeneration. Dry ADM may take up to years to cause any damage, while wet ADM can affect your vision in a week. It startscwithout much symptoms , but you will gradually feel the difference in your vision.
Early detection of wet ADM can help you secure your existing vision or even recover some lost vision.
Symptoms and Causes
You might not notice any symptoms until it affects both of your eyes.
Some common symptoms include things that seem twisted or out of shape. Rare symptoms include your eyes taking a long time to adjust when entering a dark room from sunlight.
Few of the most common symptoms of wet macular degeneration include:
- Blurry vision
- Dark areas in your central vision
- Straight lines seeming bent
- Facing problems in recognizing faces
- Not able to or facing trouble reading in dim lights
- A well-defined blind spot or a blurry spot in your field of vision
- Decreased intensity, or brightness of colors
There are several causes for wet AMD, but two of them are most common
Age-related macular degeneration occurs mainly in adults over 55. Wet AMD is caused due to age in most cases.
Genetics also plays an important role in your diagnosis. For example, there is a higher chance than usual for you to have wet AMD if someone in your family has it.
Other causes include
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Eating lots of saturated fat
- Having light eye colour
- Having light skin
- Being a female
When to See a Doctor
An eye-related problem is very easy to detect for the person who has it. Therefore, if you feel any difficulty seeing, you should consult a doctor straight away.
If you have noticed changes in your central vision, or you are facing difficulty seeing color or fine details, the chances are that you might have wet macular degeneration.
If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned above for more than a week, it is wise to see a doctor.
It is important to have routine eye exams which can detect wet macular degeneration at an early stage. This is because AMD detected early can be reversed, and you can save all your vision from getting affected.
Cardiovascular diseases or high blood pressure can also cause AMD. If you have any other medical condition, it is important to get them treated and in control.
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can reduce the chances of catching the disease. Fish , rich in Omega-3 oils , in particular, can be very helpful.
Smokers have a higher chance of developing this disease than non-smokers. Also, smoking can lead to many more life-threatening diseases. So it wise to quit smoking.
Your doctor may recommend some tests to confirm a diagnosis of macular degeneration. These include:
- Examination of the back of your eye
- Test to detect the defects in the center of your vision
- Fluorescein angiography
- Indocyanine green angiography
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT): This is a non-invasive imaging test that shows the detailed cross sections of the retina
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT) angiography: A newer noninvasive test that allows the doctor to see unwanted blood vessels in the macula, in certain cases
Wet AMD can never be fully cured, but there are treatments to stop the spread or, if detected early, even regain some lost vision.
The first thing you should do is to make some lifestyle changes. Exercising regularly, eating a nutrition-rich diet, and quitting smoking can be helpful. Vitamins C&D, copper, and zinc can help from letting dry AMD turn into wet macular degeneration.
Certain medications block the signals the body sends for generating new blood vessels. Prescribing these medications is the first step doctors take in the treatment process.
Medicines used for the treatment of wet macular degeneration include:
Your doctor may inject these medicines every 4 to 6 weeks in the affected eye.
- Photodynamic therapy: During this therapy, your doctor will inject a drug known as verteporfin into the vein of your arm. This drug will travel to blood vessels in your eye. Then, your doctor will shine a focused light from a special laser to abnormal blood vessels in the eye. This will activate the drug, causing abnormal blood vessels to close, which in turn, stops the leakage.
- Photocoagulation. During this therapy, your doctor will use a high-energy laser beam to close abnormal blood vessels under the macula.
- Low vision rehabilitation. Age-related macular degeneration does not affect the peripheral (side) vision and does not usually cause total blindness. However, it can decrease or eliminate your central vision — which is essential for reading, driving, and recognizing faces of the people. For such condition, working with a low vision rehabilitation specialist may be beneficial.
Detecting an eye problem early provides better chances of treatment. Wet AMD is rare and severe, but if caught early then, it can be stopped or, in some cases, even reversed.
Your lifestyle plays a big role in the diagnosis of this disease. For example, people with cardiovascular problems or high blood pressure have higher chances of catching AMD.
Consult your eye doctor if you see bents or waves on flat surfaces or have trouble seeing fine details.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it possible to go blind from wet WMD?
Wet macular degeneration never causes total blindness. Although the impact can be very severe, your peripheral vision will always be secured. Unfortunately, due to damaged light-sensing cells, your vision will not be the same as before and will impact your daily life.
If any of my parents have WMD, will I have it too?
There is no guarantee. People don’t need to develop WMD if their family members are suffering from it. Although the chances of those having it are more than those without family members with macular degeneration.
I see blank spots at the center of my vision. Is that AMD?
It could be. They could also be floaters. Floaters can form shadows inside your eye. Move your eyes quickly and stop. If it’s floaters, then they will keep moving for a few seconds. The best way to find out what you have is to consult a doctor.