Wet macular degeneration is the more advanced type of AMD. Although it affects only 10-15 percent of those who have the condition, it accounts for 90 percent of the severe vision loss caused by macular degeneration. With this type, the membrane underlying the retina thickens, then breaks. The oxygen supply to the macula is disrupted and the body responds by growing new, abnomal blood vessels. These begin to grow through the breaks of the membrane behind the retina towards the macula, often raising the retina.
To visualize this, imagine the roots of a tree growing and spreading until they crack and grow through a sidewalk. Then imagine rainwater seeping up throughout the cracks. These abnormal blood vessels (the “roots”) tend to be very fragile. They often grow and leak or bleed, causing scarring of the macula. This fluid is called exudate and wet AMD is sometimes called exudative macular degeneration. This damage to the macula results in rapid central vision loss. Once this vision is destroyed, it cannot be restored. However, there are several treatment options for wet AMD which can be very effective if applied early.