By Lylas G. Mogk, M.D., Updated by Sefy Paulose, M.D.,March. 2022
In wet (neovascular/exudative) age-related macular degeneration (AMD), abnormal blood vessels develop under the macula and break, bleed, and leak fluid. This damages the macula and, if left untreated, can result in rapid and severe loss of central vision.
Targeting Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF)
The most effective treatments to date for wet AMD are medications that target the protein that causes the abnormal blood vessels to form, Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein produced by damaged retina that causes the production of abnormal blood vessels. However, these blood vessels damage your eye more by causing worsening swelling, bleeding and can cause scars that can pull on your retina and cause a retinal detachment.
In these cases, your doctor may treat you with an injection of anti-VEGF medicine. Anti-VEGF medicine blocks VEGF which prevents the growth of new blood vessels in the eye. Although the main role of anti-VEGF injections is to prevent your vision from getting worse, this medication can sometimes improve your vision. There are three types of anti-VEGF medications that your ophthalmologist may give you – Avastin, Lucentis and Eylea.
In some scenarios of very aggressive wet AMD, your doctor may also recommend laser treatment called photodynamic therapy (cold laser). The purpose of this laser is to slow down progression Although this laser does not prevent significant vision loss, it may be used in some rare instances of exudative AMD.
If there is still concern for worsening wet AMD, your doctor may suggest a surgical treatment. However, these surgical procedures were developed prior to the invention of anti-VEGF treatments. For the most part, these surgical treatments are rarely used.