Screening for Macular Degeneration
Testing for defects in your central vision. During a complete eye exam, your eye doctor may use a test called the Amsler grid to test for defects in the center of your vision. If you have macular degeneration, when you look at the grid some of the straight lines may seem faded, broken or distorted.
Examining the back of your eye. Your eye doctor will examine the back of your eye to look for a mottled appearance that’s caused by drusen – yellow deposits that form in people with macular degeneration. To examine the back of your eye, your eye doctor will dilate your eyes using eyedrops and then use a special magnifying lens.
Creating images of the blood vessels in your eye (angiogram). During an angiogram of your eye, a colored dye is injected into a vein in your arm. The dye travels to the blood vessels in your eye. A special camera is used to take pictures of your eye. The pictures show the dye highlighting the blood vessels in your eye. Your eye doctor uses the information from the angiogram images to determine whether the back of your eye shows blood vessel or retinal abnormalities, such as those that might be associated with wet macular degeneration. This test would be reffered to an ophthalmologist.
Optical coherence tomography. This noninvasive imaging test helps identify and display areas of retinal thickening or thinning. Such changes are associated with macular degeneration. It’s often used to help monitor the response of the retina to macular degeneration treatments.
Determining the stage of your dry macular degeneration. Dry macular degeneration is categorized in three stages based on the progression of damage in your eye:
Early stage. Several small drusen or a few medium-sized drusen are detected on the macula in one or both eyes. Generally, there’s no vision loss in the earliest stage.
Intermediate stage. Many medium-sized drusen or one or more large drusen are detected in one or both eyes. At this stage, your central vision may start to blur and you may need extra light for reading or doing detail work.
Advanced stage. Several large drusen, as well as extensive breakdown of light-sensitive cells in the macula, are detected. This causes a well-defined spot of blurring in your central vision. The blurred area may become larger and more opaque over time.