The Amsler Grid: Check your eyesight with the macular degeneration test
13 January 2022
Keep an eye on your eye health with this handy test!
When it comes to looking after your vision and eye health, there are many different eye tests you can take at home to monitor your vision and seek treatment if necessary. One example of this is the Amsler grid test which can help you to detect signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The Amsler grid test is a small grid with a black dot that you focus on while looking at the grid. If the lines on the grid appear wavy or distorted, this could be an early indication that you are suffering from AMD. While home eye tests are no replacement for seeing an eye care professional, they can assist you in noticing the first signs of an eye condition or vision problem. In this piece, we will discuss what AMD is and how the Amsler grid test can help you to look out for signs of this condition.
What is AMD?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that can deteriorate the central part of the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye. This small section of the retina is called the macula, and it’s responsible for your central vision along with how well you can see colours and smaller details. As this disease affects your central vision, your eyesight can become significantly impaired, leading to blurred or distorted vision. Unfortunately, this can make certain tasks that require attention to detail more difficult to complete, such as reading or using your phone. AMD tends to affect people in their 50s and 60s, hence why it’s considered to be an age-related eye disease. Your likelihood of developing the disease increases as you grow older as AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss in adults.
There are two different types of AMD: dry AMD and wet AMD. Dry AMD is the most common form of the condition, with 85% of all cases of the disease being the dry form. With dry AMD, small deposits of a fatty substance called drusen builds up on the retina, leading to the gradual deterioration of the macula. This can result in blurred or impaired central vision. Wet AMD is the less common form of the disease, and it usually progresses from dry AMD as the condition worsens. In this case, wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels underneath the retina start to grow towards the macula. As the abnormal blood vessels begin to bleed and leak into the macula, this can lead to a rapid deterioration of your central vision, including blurred, distorted vision and blind spots. Wet AMD will eventually scar the macula and lead to the permanent loss of central vision if the disease is not treated quickly.
What is the Amsler grid test?
The Amsler grid test is a handy tool that opticians use to detect any vision problems you may have resulting from damage to the macula. This is a useful way of detecting AMD and other macular diseases early on, and the best thing about it is that you can also use this test at home!
If you are worried about your vision or you are aware that you’re at risk of developing AMD, taking this quick and easy test frequently can help to ease your worries. This test can help you catch early signs of the disease before it progresses any further, which is especially important as vision loss from AMD can be gradual and painless. This can make the disease much harder to detect in its early stages. Visiting your opticians and using the Amsler grid test regularly is the best way to monitor your vision and detect the symptoms of the disease early, preventing further vision loss.
How to use the Amsler grid test
The Amsler grid test is a square with a grid pattern and a small black dot in the middle. It’s quick, easy to use, and is best used on a daily basis to help you detect symptoms of vision loss with this slow-progressing disease. Here are the steps you can follow to make sure you’re using the grid test correctly:
- To start with, hold the grid approximately 12 to 15 inches away from your face in good lighting. If you normally wear glasses, make sure you are wearing your glasses while taking the test.
- Testing each eye one at a time, cover one eye and look at the grid.
- Look directly at the black dot in the centre of the grid. Take notice of your side vision and notice if the grid lines look straight or blurry and wavy.
For those who have AMD, the lines on the Amsler grid test will not appear completely straight. Instead, the lines may appear distorted and you may see dark or blank areas on the grid.
If you have noticed that your vision is distorted while taking the Amsler grid test, visit your optician to carry out further eye tests professionally. These tests can help with diagnosing the disease, and your optometrist will suggest what treatment options may be available to you. Remember, attending regular eye tests is the most important step you can take to look after your eye health and vision. A home eye test cannot replace being seen by an eye care professional.
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