Diagnosis of Macular Degeneration
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may suspect adult macular degeneration if you are over the age of 50 and have changes in your central vision. You will probably be referred to an ophthalmologist, who will look for signs of macular degeneration.
Eye Evaluation for Macular Degeneration:
Visual acuity test —This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
Pupil dilation —Eye drops will be placed in your eyes to dilate, or enlarge, your pupils. This way, your eye care professional can view the back of your eye. One of the most common early signs of adult macular degeneration is the presence of drusen—tiny yellow deposits in the retina. Your eye care professional can see them during an eye examination. The presence of drusen alone does not indicate macular degeneration, but it might mean that the eye is at risk for developing adult macular degeneration.
Other findings may include pigment changes, macular damage, and new blood vessels.
After the examination, your vision may remain blurred for several hours due to the dilating drops.
Amsler grid —You may be asked to view an Amsler grid, a pattern that looks like a checkerboard. This can test for changes in your central vision. You will be asked to cover one eye and stare at a black dot in the center of the grid. While staring at the dot, you may notice that the straight lines in the pattern appear wavy to you. You may notice that some of the lines are missing, indicating loss of central vision. These may be signs of macular degeneration.
Fluorescein angiography —If your eye care professional suspects you have late neovascular macular degeneration, you may need to have a test called fluorescein angiography. In this test, a special dye is injected by IV. Pictures are then taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels in the retina. The photos help your eye care professional evaluate leaking blood vessels to determine whether they can be treated.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated May 27, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2016.
Age-related macular degeneration. National Eye Institute (NEI) website. Available at: https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen. Accessed November 28, 2016.
Last reviewed February 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 3/10/2021
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