Vision Term Glossary

A quick guide to common phrases related to wet AMD

There are a lot of words your healthcare team might use when talking about wet age-related macular degeneration. They may sound unfamiliar, confusing or even a little scary. Remember that it’s okay to ask your team to slow down and explain words that you don’t understand. You are your own greatest advocate, and it’s important that you understand everything about your condition and treatment.

Below are some common words you may hear from your ophthalmologist or during your research on wet AMD, along with their definitions. You may want to print this list and bring it with you for your next appointment.

  • Amsler Grid: a black and white grid used to monitor the progression of wet AMD. Amsler grids can help you keep track of any changes to your vision at home.1
    • Click here  to learn more about exams to detect wet AMD.
  • Anti-VEGF: a type of wet age-related macular degeneration treatment that targets a protein called VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor). Anti-Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) injections have proven to be effective in preventing the formation of new leaky blood vessels and preventing more fluid from accumulating in the retina, as fluid can lead to further loss of vision. This treatment is usually given through an eye injection.2,3
  • Choroid: the part of your eye behind the retina. The choroid contains blood vessels and connective tissue,  which can become damaged by fluid in wet macular degeneration.4
  • Drusen: yellow deposits underneath the retina, which increase the risk of developing macular degeneration.5
  • Oedema: swelling caused by excess fluid, which can happen anywhere in the body. In wet macular degeneration, it occurs in the macula.6
  • Fluorescein angiography: an exam to detect new blood vessels. Fluorescein angiography can help detect the development of wet age-related macular degeneration by identifying leaky blood vessels. During this exam, dye is injected into the arm and a series of photographs of the eye are taken to help ophthalmologists see blood flow in the patient’s retina.7
      • Click here to learn more about exams to detect wet AMD
  • Fundoscopy: an exam to detect drusen below the retina. To conduct a fundoscopy, a physician examines the back of the eye and the retina using a special tool called an ophthalmoscope and a magnifier.8
      • Click here  to learn more about exams to detect wet AMD.
  • Geographic atrophy: a severe form of macular degeneration, which can occur in both dry and wet age-related macular degeneration patients. Geographic atrophy causes some cells in the retina to die, creating small blind spots in a patient’s vision.9
  • Intra-retinal fluid (IRF): fluid that accumulates within the layers of the retina. Presence of IRF is can be a marker of wet macular degeneration disease progression.10
      • Click here to learn more about fluid in wet AMD.
  • Macula: the center of the retina which is responsible for sharp, central vision.11
      • In wet age-related macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels leak fluid and damage the macula, impairing vision.11
  • Wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD): a chronic, degenerative condition characterized by abnormal blood vessel growth that leaks fluid and/or blood in the retina, damaging sharp, central vision.11
  • Wet age-related macular degeneration (wAMD) is also referred to as neovascular (nAMD) or exudative macular degeneration.
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT): a common, non-invasive 3-D imaging technique that ophthalmologists use to detect fluid in the retina.7 It is like an ultrasound but uses laser light and not sound to visualise the layers of the retina.
  • Retina: the layer of tissue in the back of the eye which contain photoreceptors to detect light and form a visual image.12
  • Retinal pigment epithelium (RPE): a layer of cells that protects the retina and regulates the transport of nutrients and waste to and from the retina.13
  • Sub-retinal fluid (SRF): fluid that builds up underneath the retina. Presence of SRF can be a marker of wet macular degeneration disease progression.10
      • Click here to learn more about fluid in wet macular degeneration.
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF): a protein in the body that stimulates the growth of blood vessels.3
  • An excess of VEGF in the eye is thought to be the cause of wet age-related macular degeneration, as it can cause the overproduction of abnormal, leaky blood vessels which damage the macula.3

Whether you are a patient, caregiver, or advocate, we hope this list of definitions will help you further understand wet AMD. And remember, health care professionals are used to saying certain words and may not realize that they’re hard for you to understand. It’s always okay to ask them to explain these words to give you a complete picture of your condition and treatment.


  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Have AMD? Save Your Sight with an Amsler Grid. Available at: Accessed October 2020.
  2. Yorston D. Anti-VEGF drugs in the prevention of blindness. Community Eye Health 27(87): 44–46. 2014.
  3. Kim R. Introduction, mechanism of action and rationale for antivascular endothelial growth factor drugs in age-related macular degeneration. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2007;55(6):413-415.
  4. American Academy of Ophthalmology. 2016. Eye Health A-Z: Choroid. Accessed October 2020.
  5. Drusen in Eyes: Causes, Treatment, and Macular Degeneration. Healthline. 2020. Accessed October 2020.
  6. National Eye Institute. Macular Edema. 2020. Accessed October 2020.
  7. Kang SW, et al. The correlation between fluorescein angiographic and optical coherence tomographic features in clinically significant diabetic macular edema. Am J Ophthalmol 2004;137(2):313-322.
  8. Schneiderman H. The Funduscopic Examination. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 117. Available from:
  9. Kaszubski P, Ben Ami T, Saade C, Smith R. Geographic Atrophy and Choroidal Neovascularization in the Same Eye: A Review. Ophthalmic Res. 2016;55(4):185-193. doi:10.1159/000443209.
  10. Arnold J et al. The role of sub-retinal fluid in determining treatment outcomes in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration—a phase IV randomised clinical trial with ranibizumab: the FLUID study. BMC Ophthalmol. 2016;143(4):679-680.
  11. National Eye Institute. Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Available at (link is external). Accessed October 2020.
  12. Drusen in Eyes: Causes, Treatment, and Macular Degeneration. Healthline. 2020. Accessed October 2020.
  13. Healthline. Retina. Available at (link is external). Accessed October 2020.
  14. Boulton, M., Dayhaw-Barker, P. The role of the retinal pigment epithelium: Topographical variation and ageing changes. Eye 15, 384–389 (2001).
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