Three Ways to Check for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

About Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration affects millions of people across the globe. Although it rarely causes total vision loss, it causes black holes or dim images to appear at the vision center, leaving only an ability to see things located around the outermost edge of the field of vision, impacting upon daily living activities.

In those aged 60 or over, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the main cause of legal blindness and severe vision loss in the US. There are two types of AMD, wet and dry, which refer to the types of tissue damage involved in vision lost. Around 80% – 890% of individuals with AMD have dry AMD, but it is the wet AMD that accounts for around 90% of the cases of severe vision loss.

Early detection of AMD can contribute in more effective treatment, and although there is no cure for macular degeneration, there are medical treatments (particularly for wet AMD), devices and tools available to assist with many daily living tasks.

With that in mind, here are three ways to help you to check for AMD.

1. The Amsler Test

The Amsler grid was devised by the ophthalmologist Marc Amsler in 1945, and it can assist in detecting visual disturbances, particularly those arising in the macular of the eye. The Amsler grid below is a typical example, although there are variations, particularly with the use of certain colors to check for specific vision problems.

Using the Amsler Grid

Sit around 14 inches away from the monitor, and if you normally wear reading glasses, then wear them now. Cover your left eye and focus your right eye on the dot in the center. As you look at the dot, you should be aware of the gridlines. Repeat the test with your right eye.

If you notice blurry or wavy lines, gray areas, holes or spots anywhere on the grid or then contact your doctor for an eye test as soon a possible.

You can print the grid out and stick it on your fridge to remind you to carry out the test regularly.

If you have already been diagnosed with wet AMD, the Amsler grid is useful for monitoring any further vision changes. If you use a separate grid for each eye, you can mark any distortion areas on the grid with a pencil. This means that you can identify further deterioration in your vision if new areas of distortion appear.

2. The Mirror Test

Take time to carry out this quick test when you look in your bathroom mirror every morning. Cover your left eye with your hand and focus on the reflection of your face in the mirror. Repeat this action with your right eye, and if you see any missing parts of your vision, or central blurring, then visit your doctor for an eye exam.

3. The Eye Test

Having your vision checked regularly (at least every two years), is also important in catching the early signs of any type of vision loss.

Last Reviewed 13/Mar/2014

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Whilst wielding a couple of dumbbells in a gym class in 2003, Kate experienced an epiphany around the lack of accepted best practice guidelines when it came to staying well and avoiding disease. Kate realized that she had no chance of slowing her own aging process unless she became better educated about her options.
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