Wet Age-Related Macular Oedema (Also: subretinal choroidal neovascular membrane, subretinal membrane, choroidal neovascularisation)
What's going on?
New vessels have grown into the space beneath the retina. These vessels are abnormal and leak fluid or bleed damaging the retina and thus reducing vision. If untreated, vision can deteriorate rapidly, and you may eventually be left with a scar at the back of the eye, with resulting poor central vision.
What will my ophthalmologist see?
We may see the abnormal blood vessels or we may simply see the fluid in the retina.
What will my ophthalmologist do for me?
There are new exciting treatments which are becoming available to treat this condition. We will usually arrange a fluorescein angiogram, whereby fluorescein dye is injected into the veins (of your arm not your eye – don't panic) and photographs taken of the blood vessels at the back of the eye. This will detect the presence of the new blood vessels and let us have an idea of what treatment would be appropriate for you. Laser is sometimes possible and often we can inject a chemical into the eye (its not as bad as it sounds) to control the disease and minimize the damage caused.
What can I do?
If this has hit one eye then we have to try and minimize the risk of it affecting the other eye. Stop smoking and make sure your blood pressure is checked regularly. Check your other eye every morning by looking at the Amsler chart. If you develop distortion or sudden loss of vision contact us immediately.
There is evidence to suggest that a special concoction of multivitamins and anti-oxidants may help – your ophthalmologist can advise you.
What do I need to know?
There is no point in sugar coating this condition – it is bad but not disastrous news. Your central vision will be affected to some degree. We hope to minimize the damage by treating you early and effectively. Our treatment is a complete success if we stop the deterioration and if we manage to improve your vision slightly then we are delighted.
If you have laser treatment you may require approximately three treatments in the first year and two in the second. If you have the injection of chemical into the eye this may have to be repeated at 2 to 4 monthly intervals to maintain control of the disease.
The most important thing to focus upon (excuse the pun) is the fact that you will never go blind because of this disease. Even in the worst case scenario your central vision will be a big blur but your peripheral vision will be intact. You will be able to navigate around and manage most of your daily activities.