Macular Degeneration Part 2 – Detection

In the last article on macular degeneration, AMD, I explained a little what this disease is, who is likely to get it, and what it means to your vision and lifestyle. We also spent some time reviewing what can be done to prevent it. Prevention is the best medicine, because once you have AMD, you can never regain your eyesight.

Here are some steps to follow to see if you have AMD.

1) Call your optometrist for a health check. Optometry is much more accessible than ophthalmology, and costs healthcare a fraction of the cost for the same assessment. If your optometrist determines there is need, you will be referred to a specialist. In the Alberta Foothills region, call us at 403-933-5552 to set an appointment.

2) Use the Amsler Grid to check if you are having vision changes. Follow the instructions below.

  1. Get a proper amsler grid from your optometrist for this activity. Dimensions are important.
  2. Position the grid at about 40 cm in front of your face at eye level. Many people will put a grid on their refrigerator or on the wall in the bathroom.
  3. Stare at the center dot on the grid. If you wear glasses for near vision, be sure they are on. Do not move from that position. Cover one eye with your hand, but do not close your eyes and do not touch the eye. In other words, keep both eyes open and don’t touch the eyes, just cover one eye to block its view.
  4. While staring at the dot, become aware of the lines of the grid around the dot. So, you are looking at the dot, but thinking about the square lines around it.
  5. All the squares should be even, regular, with no wavy lines or broken lines.
  6. Move your hand to cover the other eye. Simply move your hand over to the other side.

See this sample normal grid:

If your vision is affected, you will see some wavy or broken lines, possibly some lines will be faded or missing, such as in this sample grid:

Remember, macular degeneration can smoulder for years without you noticing, so arrange to have regular eye health exams. If you are noticing changes in your vision, see an optometrist immediately.

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