In order to diagnose macular degeneration, your doctor may perform one or several photographic procedures. These are all non-invasive and painless. For two of them, you will have a dye injected into your arm with a very small needle. Most people experience very little discomfort, though the light from the camera can be glaring.
A technician will perform a test called a fluorescein angiogram. This involves injecting a dye into the patient's arm. The dye travels quickly through the body. When it reaches the back of the eye, a rapid sequence of photos of the retina is taken. The procedure is not invasive - the photos are taken like regular pictures. The eye is dilated, so the retina can be seen through the wide open pupil. These photos show what changes have taken place in the retina and where abnormal blood vessels are located.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
Your doctor may also take specialized photos that show the layers of the retina in cross section. There is no dye or injection involved. This special photograph lets the doctor see the thickness of the retina and any inflammation and fluids. As treatment continues, additional OCT images can show the effect of the therapy and can guide future treatment.
Indocyanine Green (ICG) Angiography
A procedure similar to fluorescein angiography, ICG angiography uses Indocyanine green dye which can show more detail than flourescein angiography. It also uses a dye that is injected into the eye and then digital photographs are taken.
Most patients report that their first sign of AMD was the rapid onset of prolonged, distorted vision. Straight lines like telephone wires and door frames appear to be wavy. If you notice any distorted or missing areas of vision, consult your ophthalmologist promptly.
Amsler Grid Testing
The Amsler Grid is a simple test of your central vision. It will alert you to any early changes that may indicate a problem with macular degeneration or a worsening of your condition.
The Amsler Grid looks like graph paper, with dark lines forming a square grid. Some versions have white lines on a dark background.
One of the first signs of macular degeneration can be wavy, broken or distorted lines OR a blurred or missing area of vision. The Amsler Grid can help you spot these early. Early detection of wet AMD is critical because laser or other treatments, when indicated, are most successful when performed before damage occurs. Since dry AMD can lead to development of wet AMD, most patients should use the Amsler Grid. Check with your eye doctor to find out how often you should use this test.
1. Wear your reading glasses
2. Hold the Amsler grid at a normal reading distance
3. Cover one eye
4. Look at the dot in the center of the grid
5. Note how the lines and squares appear
6. Test the other eye in the same manner
- All of the lines should be straight and the squares of a uniform size.
- If you note any changes in the appearance of the grid, such as distortion, blurring, discoloration, dark or missing areas of the grid, or any other changes, call and see your eye doctor immediately. Do not wait to see if the changes will clear on their own. Timely treatment is vital to safeguarding your vision.