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Wet Macular Degeneration: Causes and Risk Factors

Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. These new blood vessels tend to be fragile and often leak blood and fluid. The blood and fluid raise the macula from its normal place at the back of the eye.
With wet macular degeneration, loss of central vision can occur quickly. As mentioned, this is an advanced form of the disease and is more severe than the dry form.
Research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop wet macular degeneration. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease.
Specific risk factors for this condition include:

Stages and Symptoms of Wet Macular Degeneration

The classic early symptom of wet macular degeneration is straight lines appearing crooked. This results when fluid from the leaking blood vessels gathers and lifts the macula, distorting vision. A small blind spot may also appear, resulting in a loss of central vision.
These possible symptoms are not sure signs of macular degeneration. Other eye problems can also cause these symptoms. Anyone with symptoms should see an eye care professional. Only an eye care professional can diagnose and treat the problem.

How Is It Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose wet macular degeneration, your doctor will ask you a number of questions about your medical history and will also perform a comprehensive eye exam.
This exam may include the following:
  • Visual acuity test
  • Dilated eye exam
  • Tonometry
  • Amsler grid
  • Fluorescein angiogram.
(Click Macular Degeneration Tests for more information on how a diagnosis is made.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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