Wet Macular Degeneration

Wet Macular Degeneration

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Wet macular degeneration occurs when bleeding and leaking from abnormal blood vessels occurs in the center of the retina.

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Fluorescein dye is injected into an arm vein to produce this angiogram of wet AMD. Note the white dye leaking in the center of the image.

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In this photograph of wet AMD, both blood and fluid are seen in the macula.

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Wet AMD can be treated with injections of medicine into the eye.

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What is Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

The wet form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is characterized by the development of abnormal blood vessels underneath the macula. (see illustration) These abnormal blood vessels are called choroidal neovascular (CNV) membranes and can produce tissue swelling, hemorrhage and scarring. The damage to the macula from CNV can lead to legal blindness. Many of today’s modern treatments work to control CNV.

What Testing Might Be Done?

Computerized photographic tests such as a flourescein angiogram, indocyanine green angiography, and optical coherence tomography help to evaluate the extent of damage from wet macular degeneration.

What Causes Wet AMD?

Most research points to the role of a blood vessel forming molecule known as Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) as the cause of the new, damaging blood vessels that grow in wet macular degeneration.

What About Laser Treatment?

High intensity laser was the only option in the past and often left a blind spot in the treatment zone. More recently, however, a lower intensity laser has been devised which is used in conjunction with a specially formulated photoactive dye called Photodyamic Therapy (PDT). This treatment option can only help to reduce the amount of vision loss, not restore vision that has already been lost. Today, PDT is frequently used in combination with newer, injectable medications.

What About the Injections to Treat Wet Macular Degeneration?

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Since VEGF is an important component in the development of wet macular degeneration, the recent development of anti-VEGF medications represents an exciting advance in the treatment of wet AMD. Bevacizumab (Avastin) and ranibizumab (Lucentis) are two very useful drugs. Your physician will help you decide what’s right for you.

Does the Injection Hurt?

The procedure is quick and practically pain free because your eye is treated with local anesthetic before the injection. A sterile lid speculum helps keep the eye open and an antiseptic kills any germs.

Will It Help My Vision?

Most patients will hold on to the vision they have and some regain lost vision after these treatments.