To diagnose macular degeneration, doctors can use the Amsler grid and other diagnostic tools to check the macula. They may spot early symptoms, such as distorted vision and blind spots.
Macular degeneration affects a part of the eye known as the macula. It is a condition that can cause severe loss of vision over time. Macular degeneration is a common condition, accounting for roughly
This article will discuss the diagnostic use of the Amsler grid, its limitations, and other methods for diagnosing macular degeneration, as well as provide a brief overview of macular degeneration.
An early diagnosis can make a large difference to the outlook of people with macular degeneration, as it can help prevent significant vision loss.
An eye specialist will examine the eyes, especially the back of the eyes, where the retina and macula are before running tests.
They may then use the Amsler grid, as above, to screen for macular degeneration. As a
The Amsler grid can help make a macular degeneration diagnosis and determine whether the symptoms are getting worse.
Read more about the diagnosis using the Amsler grid.
How doctors use it
In the first instance, the medical professionals must illuminate the grid and place it 33 cm away from the person’s eyes. They may wear corrective lenses if necessary. The medical professionals will then ask them to close one eye and look at the central dot on the Amsler grid.
At this point, it is up to the individual to notice and report any visual problems. Distorted lines on the Amsler grid indicate visual distortions, and missing or blurring squares may indicate blind spots.
The medical team will then ask the individual to mark these visual abnormalities on the grid so that doctors can compare their results for any:
Doctors encourage people to use the Amsler grid at least once a week to check their eyesight. People can obtain a grid from their eye doctor or can save or download the one we provide in this article.
If a person cannot see the corners, doctors will also test for other eye diseases such as glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa.
Read more about the differences between glaucoma and macular degeneration.
Is the Amsler grid effective?
An increasing number of
The Amsler grid is not entirely effective for monitoring vision. In some instances, people’s brains may complete missing details or distorted lines on the grid, which could cause slight visual abnormalities to go undetected.
Amsler grids may, therefore, not always provide a precise measure of how the disease progresses, as the results may vary from one screening to the next.
For this reason, doctors may also use other diagnostic tests to determine whether someone has macular degeneration.
- Funduscopic evaluation with dilated pupils: This test involves using a medicated eye drop to dilate a person’s pupils. This allows doctors to look more closely at the fundus of the eye.
- Macular layer imaging with optical coherence tomography: This is a newer imaging technique. Although noninvasive and useful, it cannot tell apart different macular degeneration types in the later stages of the conditions.
- Fluorescein angiography: This test is more invasive. First, it involves using a medicated eye drop to dilate the eyes. Then, a medical professional injects dye into an arm vein and uses a special camera to take photos of the inside of the eyes as the dye passes through the retina’s blood vessels. The test measures blood flow around the retina and can differentiate between macular degeneration subtypes.
The macula is a major component of the retina. For this reason, people with macular degeneration experience vision problems that can worsen over time.
In the initial stages of the condition, people with macular degeneration may experience vague or
There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet.
Dry macular degeneration
This type of macular degeneration develops gradually over time and is the
Wet macular degeneration
This type is less common but can be more serious, as blood vessels develop under the macula, leading to blood and fluid buildup and leaks.
Without treatment, many people can experience vision loss. Treatment may help reduce the degree of loss, but it does not always prevent it entirely.
Read on for the differences between the two types of macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration symptoms may develop over time, but can gradually worsen, such as:
- blurred vision and less defined
- slow recovery of visual function after exposure to bright light
- blind spots — usually occur with wet macular degeneration and affect the central vision
- objects look smaller
- not recognizing people’s faces
If eye doctors, known as ophthalmologists, do not treat macular degeneration, the condition can worsen and likely cause vision loss.
It is important that people experiencing any of the above symptoms speak with a doctor as soon as possible.
Some people may be at an
The outlook for people with macular degeneration depends upon when and how soon a person receives a diagnosis and treatment. Without treatment, macular degeneration
People with macular degeneration may experience psychological distress and lose some independence due to their vision. People can seek support from their relatives, family, and medical professionals to ensure their vision does not impact other aspects of their lives.
Although macular degeneration can lead to serious vision problems, early diagnoses can greatly improve the outlook of people who have it.
The Amsler grid may help some people notice certain macular degeneration symptoms. However, doctors must run further tests to safely diagnose this condition.