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Treating Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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5 Symptoms People With Wet AMD Should Never Ignore

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN on November 24, 2021

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a chronic eye disorder causing vision changes, occurs in two forms: dry and wet. Wet AMD occurs when tiny blood vessels leak blood and other fluids into the macula, a part of the retina that’s responsible for central vision.

Symptoms of wet AMD usually appear suddenly and get worse very quickly. However, treating any symptoms early may help prevent permanent vision loss. If you have been diagnosed with wet AMD, keep an eye out for these symptoms, which may be a sign that you need to step up your treatment.

  • Blurry view of crowd on street
    1. Blurry Vision
    One of the most common wet AMD signs is blurry vision, especially in the middle of your visual field. At first, you may only have difficulty reading printed words. But over time, it may become difficult for you to recognize faces, street signs, and other common items, making everyday tasks like driving dangerous. Since wet AMD doesn’t usually cause any pain, persistent blurry vision may be one of the first signs of the disease.

    Be sure to see your doctor if you have blurry vision that doesn’t get better. If you’re already treating your wet AMD and your blurry vision worsens, notify your doctor so you can discuss how to address it. Don’t ignore your vision changes–talk to your doctor about resources to help you adapt to your situation, and take advantage of resources available that provide rides and other support to people with low vision.
  • Senior man at computer adjusting eyeglasses
    2. Dark Patches in Your Visual Field
    A well-defined dark spot is also a hallmark sign of wet AMD. The spot may look shadowy and usually gets worse over time. Such dark spots occur when new, abnormal blood vessels grow under the eye’s retina, which is responsible for vision.

    These new blood vessels leak blood and other fluids into an area of the retina known as the macula, which may cause scarring. Scarring may then result in a visible dark spot near the center of your visual field.
  • Close-up of eyes
    3. Decreased Color Vision
    It’s also very common for people with wet AMD to experience a decrease in the intensity or brightness of colors within their visual field. The macula, a central part of the retina, houses most of the eyes’ photoreceptor cells.

    These specialized cells detect light and send signals to the brain, which then processes those signals into color images. More and more photoreceptor cells are damaged as wet AMD progresses, which makes it more difficult to see in color.
  • Rear view of woman in dark room looking through window at home
    4. Difficulty Adapting to Low Light Levels
    Along with decreased color vision, damage to the macula may eventually result in difficulty adapting to lower light levels. While peripheral vision usually isn’t affected, your central vision may continue to worsen over time.

    For some, brighter lights can help while reading, working, or performing other tasks. For your own safety, be sure to always stay within brightly lit areas, especially if you are outside of your own home. This may help prevent issues like falls that can cause serious injury.
  • Blurred image of runners legs during marathon or race on street
    5. Visual Distortions
    As wet AMD worsens, it’s very common for other types of visual distortions to occur. Straight lines may appear wavy or blurry. In some cases, lines seem to disappear when you try to look at them. Like other wet AMD symptoms, visual distortions are related to blood and fluid buildup under the macula. This type of buildup may lift the macula from the retina, resulting in vision changes or, in some cases, vision loss.

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  • Eye doctor
    Assessing Wet AMD
    It’s very important to see your doctor whenever you notice vision changes, especially if they affect your central vision or if your ability to see details and colors changes. Your doctor will examine your eyes and perform tests to measure how well your central vision works.

    Fluorescein angiography, which uses special dye that can be seen using medical imaging technology, can show where blood vessels in and around the macula are leaking. Another test, called optical coherence tomography, can be used to measure the retina’s thickness and may help your doctor determine which treatments might work best.

    If your current treatment isn’t effective, your doctor can use this information to recommend something new and direct you to resources that can help you adapt and remain independent.
Wet AMD Symptoms | Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

About The Author

Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN began writing professionally in 2016. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and worked as a registered nurse in multiple specialties, including pharmaceuticals, operating room/surgery, endocrinology, and family practice. With over nine years of clinical practice experience, Sarah has worked with clients including Healthgrades, Mayo Clinic, Aha Media Group, Wolters Kluwer, and UVA Cancer Center.
  1. What is the macula? Macular Society.
  2. Wet macular degeneration. Mayo Clinic.
  3. Wet Macular Degeneration. American Macular Degeneration Foundation.
  4. Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Tufts Medical Center.
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Last Review Date: 2021 Nov 16
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