What is Wet Macular Degeneration?

People don’t think about their eyes until something goes wrong and they can’t see clearly. People usually aren’t aware that a healthy lifestyle will keep the eyes functioning properly. However, things over which people have no control can damage the eyes. Diabetes, for example, in addition to high blood pressure is known to damage the eyes. What kind of damage is possible and how can it be treated or prevented? Wet age-related macular degeneration is one condition about which people need to know in order to save their eyesight.

What an Eye Looks Like

When folks suck on a gumball, they’ll know that the first layer is sugar and color, the second layer is grayish and the third brownish and so forth. An eye consists of layers as well. The outer layer is the white of the eyeball, called the sclera. Inside that is a layer consisting of the blood supply called the choroid. Last is the layer sensitive to light called the retina. The macula is the center portion of the retina that provides central vision. It is this layer that is affected by wet age-related macular degeneration.

Never Heard of Wet Macular Degeneration?

Most people have probably never heard of wet age-related macular degeneration because it’s a condition affecting people in later life. Wet AMD usually develops from dry macular degeneration, a condition more common among aging people. It is characterized by the slow breakdown of light-sensitive cells in the macula. Blurry vision is its manifestation. Wet AMD grows out of dry macular degeneration. It is characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula behind the retina. These blood vessels are delicate and can leak blood and other fluids. The blood and fluids cause swelling to the macula. It manifests as severely distorted and blurred central vision.

When a person looks at someone standing opposite him, the person can clearly delineate a nose, eyes, hair and smile. With Wet AMD, the person may see the hair and shoulders, but the nose, eyes and smile are severely blurred. To use another example, suppose a person is looking at a graph. The line on the graph he needs to analyze zigzags up the graph. To the person with Wet AMD, the graph lines are no longer straight up and down, but bloated and wavy. The zigzag up the graph is out of balance with the graph. A person with Wet AMD will have sufficient peripheral vision, but his straight-on central vision will become blurry. This will make reading, driving a car and distinguishing darker and lighter shades of a color difficult.

What Causes This to Happen?

A healthy lifestyle, including eating fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and lean meats, exercise and restful sleep, go far toward preventing these types of disease. Other risk factors of Wet AMD include smoking, fats ingestion (monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids are protective in nature), high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity. There are those aspects of the disease, however, over which no one has control, such as:


10% of those ages 65 to 75 will have some form of macular degeneration. The figure increases to 30% in those ages 75 to 85.


Caucasians are more likely to get Wet AMD than African-Americans.


50% of those with relatives suffering from Wet AMD will likely have it themselves compared to 12% of those with no family members with Wet AMD.


Without going into technical details, the genes for the complement system proteins factor H, factor B and factor 3 predispose those with the gene for Wet AMD.


Drusen is cellular debris that builds up between the retina and choroid in dry macular degeneration. Those with such buildups run the risk of contracting more severe vision loss if the macular degeneration progresses to wet.

Can I Get a Test for This?

A doctor will first need to know about family history. A predisposition for Wet AMD needs to be established so the doctor will know what tests to perform. These tests include:


The doctor will put drops in the patient’s eyes to dilate the pupils. He will then look into the back of the eye for signs of drusen.

Grid Test.

The doctor will administer an Amsler test to test for Wet AMD. The Amsler test consists of a grid with a dot in the center. If the patient’s eyes are affected, the grid and the dot will be distorted and wavy.

Flourescein Angiogram.

The doctor will insert dye into the arm and then examine they eye. The dye will travel through the blood vessels in the eye. Blood vessels that are abnormal will tell the doctor the patient has Wet AMD.

Optical Coherence Tomography.

In this test, imaging shows a cross-section of the eye that will detail any thinning or swelling in the retina due to leakage of blood and fluids into the retina.

You can learn more about the Macular Degeneration test doctors use in this blog post.

What Treatments are Available?

With early diagnosis and treatment, Wet AMD may be delayed from entering the advanced stage. Doctors have three treatments for the condition:


On the surface, some have a hard time believing acupuncture can help with macular degeneration. I get that. I suggest that you download our free consumer awareness guide and get educated on this topic. As you see on this site, we have an amazing amount of macular degeneration success stories.


A doctor will inject into the eye one of four drugs: bevacizumab, ranibizumab, pegaptanib or aflibercept. These drugs dry the fluids leaked by abnormal blood vessels. They prevent the formation of new ones by blocking the brain’s signal to make new blood vessels. These injections will be performed monthly until the abnormalities are gone and some central vision is restored.

Another popular injection is Avastin injections. This video will give you on my thoughts on these injections. I talk about the good. the bad and the ugly of these injections.


Light Therapy.

A doctor will inject into an arm the drug verteporfin. When the drug moves through abnormal blood vessels, a laser is focused on the abnormal blood vessels. The light activates the medication, resulting in the abnormal blood vessels closing, stopping leakage. Photodynamic therapy may need to be performed at a later date because blood vessels may reopen. The treatment may slow vision loss and may improve central vision.

Laser Treatment.

A high-intensity laser beam is used to destroy the abnormal blood vessels in this treatment. This treatment slows vision loss and prevents future damage to the macula. Those with advanced Wet AMD are not eligible for this treatment.

Helpful Resources

Wet AMD doesn’t make people blind and it doesn’t affect peripheral vision. It adversely affects the central vision. When the level of vision is low, there are things people can do to help:


Make the best of their glasses in order to make the most of the vision problem.


For close or detailed work, such as sewing, use a magnifying glass. Magnifiers even come in a glasses-type tool that sufferers can wear.


Like the projectors in used in elementary schools, video magnifiers can make reading or doing close and detailed work easier on those with Wet AMD.


Those working on computers can adjust the font, light and contrast so they can see better. There are speech modifiers that can be downloaded if the sufferer cannot see well enough to work or read on the computer.

Special Appliances.

Some clocks, telephones and other small appliances have larger print so people with limited vision can tell the time.


A doctor might tell you that it would be dangerous to drive. Family members, friends, shuttle services and cabs may be enlisted to help if you can no longer drive.