Macular Degeneration Home > Wet Macular Degeneration

Wet macular degeneration is a serious eye disease characterized by abnormal blood vessels that start to grow under the macula, leaking blood and fluid. The exact cause is unknown, but risk factors include obesity, smoking, and family history. The most common symptom of this condition is straight lines appearing crooked. While there is no cure, treatment options include laser surgery and photodynamic therapy.

What Is Wet Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD, or just macular degeneration) is a common eye disease that is associated with aging. It blurs the sharp, central vision needed for "straight-ahead" activities, such as reading, sewing, and driving. This is the leading cause of vision loss among Americans age 65 and over.
 
There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. About 90 percent of people with the disease have the dry form, and the remaining 10 percent have wet macular degeneration, which is more serious.
 

Understanding the Eye

In order to understand wet macular degeneration, it is helpful to understand the parts of your eye involved with sight. These structures include the:
 
  • Cornea
  • Iris
  • Pupil
  • Lens
  • Macula
  • Retina.
 
Your cornea is a thin, clear layer on the outside of your eye. The iris, or the colored part of your eye, is a muscle that controls the amount of light going through your pupil, which is the round opening in the center of your eye. Behind the iris sits the lens, which is just larger than your pupil. The iris is enclosed by a thin, clear capsule that holds the lens in its proper place.
 
When light enters your eye, the cornea and lens form the light rays into a beam that is focused directly onto your retina -- the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The retina instantly converts light, or an image, into electrical impulses. The retina then sends these impulses, or nerve signals, to the brain through the optic nerve. The optic nerve is a bundle of more than one million nerve fibers connecting the retina to the brain.
 
The macula is located in the center of the retina. It is made up of millions of light-sensing cells that help to produce central vision.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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