Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition affecting central vision. There are two types: dry and wet AMD. Wet AMD, also known as advanced neovascular AMD, is a type of late-stage AMD.

By recognizing the symptoms, a person with wet AMD may be able to take quick action and maintain their vision.

This article highlights the symptoms of wet AMD and what to expect after noticing them.

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Vision loss at the center of what a person can see is a common symptom of wet AMD. The center of the visual field can become blurry or distorted for someone with wet AMD, particularly in their near vision. A person may instead need to use their side vision.

The Macular Society describes this symptom as being similar to a smudge on eyeglasses. It may be more obvious upon waking up in the morning.

The blurry area might grow over time. More blank spots may also start to develop.

Learn more about what vision looks like with macular degeneration.

A person with wet AMD may experience distorted lines, sizes, colors, and shapes.

Objects and straight lines like door frames and lampposts may begin to look wavy or crooked. This is not specific to wet AMD, but it may be a sign of late-stage AMD of either type.

If straight lines start to become wavy, it is important to contact an eye doctor as soon as possible. This is a warning sign that AMD has progressed to a later stage.

Objects might also seem to change size, appearing smaller than they actually are in a visual effect known as micropsia. They might also change shape or seem to vanish or move.

Colors might also seem duller or darker than they used to.

People with wet AMD may find bright light uncomfortable or overwhelming. They might also have difficulties changing from a dimly lit environment to a brighter one.

It might also become harder to see clearly in rooms with low lighting.

Wet AMD progresses to vision loss faster than dry AMD. This condition is a progression of dry AMD, and it is always in a later stage.

It does not progress in stages like dry AMD. Either early, intermediate, or late dry AMD can turn into wet AMD.

Symptoms can worsen rapidly. This makes it crucial to recognize symptoms and seek prompt treatment as early as possible.

Learn about dry AMD.

Wet AMD starts with dry AMD. The dry type occurs when part of the layer of cells at the back of the eye that detects light gets thinner over time. This part is called the macula. It is responsible for detailed vision of the objects directly ahead of a person.

Dry AMD gets worse over time. It progresses to wet AMD when abnormal blood vessels grow in the back of the eye, damaging the macula. This occurs due to a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that makes blood vessels grow in the wrong part of the eye.

Learn more about AMD.

A doctor may begin by performing a physical examination, taking a full medical history, and asking about symptoms.

They may order various tests to confirm a wet AMD diagnosis and rule out other possible causes. These tests may include:

  • using eye drops to dilate the pupils so that the doctor can see the back of the eye
  • optical coherence tomography scans to assess the different layers of the retina and to check for fluid present in wet macular degeneration
  • fluorescein dye angiography, which involves injecting a dye into the arm, which then makes the retina’s blood vessels clearer so that the specialist can take photos

Depending on which tests the doctor recommends, it is best to take another person to the appointment. This is because eye drops can increase light sensitivity and blur vision for a while.

There are numerous possible treatments for wet AMD.

Anti-VEGF injections

Anti-VEGF injections are the most common treatment for wet AMD. They help plug leaking blood vessels and stop bleeding in the macula.

The doctor starts by putting numbing medication on the eye. They then clean the eye and inject the anti-VEGF medication with a tiny needle.

A person’s doctor can advise on how frequently they will require the injections.

Learn more about injections for macular degeneration.

Photodynamic therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) aims to destroy the new blood vessels at the back of the eye.

During PDT, the doctor injects the arm with a medication called verteporfin that a special type of laser called a “cold laser” activates. Then, they numb the eye, apply a contact lens to focus the laser, and direct the laser onto the new blood vessels in the macula.

When people need PDT, they typically receive it as well as anti-VEGF injections. They may need more than one session.

Learn more about laser surgery for wet ADM.

AREDS2 vitamins

A doctor may recommend taking AREDS2 vitamins if a person has advanced macular degeneration in one eye. This treatment may help slow down the progression of the condition in the other eye.

Learn more about supplements for macular degeneration.

A person should contact their doctor as soon as they notice changes in their vision.

Regular appointments with an eye doctor can help people track AMD over time and help limit vision loss.

An optometrist can diagnose dry AMD. If they detect signs of wet AMD, they will refer the individual to a retina specialist within 1–2 weeks.

Here are some frequently asked questions about wet AMD.

How quickly does wet macular degeneration progress?

Without treatment, the rate of progression in people with wet AMD may vary between several months and a few years. It progresses much faster than dry AMD.

Receiving treatment as early as possible can help slow the progression and help a person manage the condition.

Does wet macular degeneration always progress?

Treatment with anti-VEGF injections can help people preserve central vision and slow progression, although vision may continue to get slightly worse over time.

How do I know if my macular degeneration is getting worse?

It’s important to speak with a doctor when objects that usually have straight lines become wavy or distorted. This is a common sign of late-stage AMD.

A doctor may also recommend looking at an Amsler grid daily. This is a tool that can help a person detect vision changes.

Wet AMD is a degenerative eye condition that causes symptoms such as blurred central vision, distorted images, and difficulties with light changes.

The condition occurs due to abnormal blood vessels developing at the center of the retina. It progresses quickly, but treatment can help. Treatment typically involves regular anti-VEGF injections. Doctors may also recommend photodynamic therapy.

It is best for a person to contact a doctor as soon as there are concerns about macular degeneration. They can refer the individual to an eye specialist, who can then order tests to confirm the diagnosis and advise on treatments.