Diagnosis of Macular Degeneration
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.
Visual Acuity Test
—This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
—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. After the examination, your vision may remain blurred for several hours due to the dilating drops.
—You may be asked to view an Amsler grid, a pattern that looks like a checkerboard. 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. These may be signs of macular degeneration.
Fluorescein Angiography –
If your eye care professional suspects you have wet macular degeneration, you may need to have a test called fluorescein angiography. In this test, a special dye is injected into a vein in your arm. 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.
Macular Degeneration Foundation website. Available at:
National Eye Institute website. Available at:
Last reviewed June 2013 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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