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Exudative macular degeneration, or “wet” macular degeneration, is characterized by a formation of blood vessels below the retina. This sometimes occurs who already have the “dry” form of the disease, and researchers are not clear on why the formation takes place in some people. “Wet” macular degeneration is considered a more serious form of the disease, as it can be more detrimental to eyesight than the lesser form.
It is common in exudative macular degeneration for the vessels beneath the retina to burst and lead to leakage into the retina itself. This hinders the ability to see even further. Early clues that blood is leaking into the retina include distortion of straight lines, which may appear wavy or curved. Blind spots may also occur, blocking out entire portions of site. This comes as a result of the eye becoming uneven due to excessive blood flow into the area.
Vision loss may be severe in those with exudative macular degeneration, as it is one of the main causes of legal blindness. Patients may be unable to complete day-to-day tasks like driving a car or reading a book. Side vision is usually not affected to this extent, so total blindness doesn’t normally occur unless there are other vision problems as well.
There are treatments available which may help some patients to regain site or prevent further vision damage. The most common is a process which acts to destroy or remove the vessels in the eye which cause leakage. This can be done with a laser, although the results are not always long-term since blood vessels often grow back. Newer treatments include drugs which prevent the vessels from returning. These are generally used in combination with laser therapies.
These treatments are not suitable for all patients, as only certain sizes and shapes of blood vessels can be successfully removed. Additionally, many of the drugs are still being tested for effectiveness. Some patients may be able to maintain vision with recurrent laser treatments, while others may see no benefits.
Exudative macular degeneration may also be treated successfully in patients in early stages of the disease with high doses of vitamins and minerals. One theory on why vessels begin to leak is that there are deficiencies in several important nutrients, either due to lack of consumption of the inability of the eye to absorb them. Taking higher than average doses may remedy the situation and allow eyesight to recover.
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