Diagnosis of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Medically Reviewed by Whitney Seltman, OD on September 21, 2022
2 min read

Your eye doctor can look for age-related macular degeneration when you see them for a routine eye exam and do a dilated eye exam. An early diagnosis will let you start treatment that may delay some symptoms or make them less severe.

Your doctor will check for AMD by testing your vision and examining your retina, a layer of tissue at the back of your eye that processes light. They'll look for tiny yellow deposits called drusen under the retina. It's a common, early sign of the disease. Your doctor may also ask you to look at an Amsler grid, a pattern of straight lines that's like a checkerboard. If some of the lines appear wavy to you or some of them are missing, it could be a sign of macular degeneration.

If your doctor thinks you have age-related macular degeneration, they may want you to have one or both of these exams:

Optical coherence tomography (OCT). It's a special photograph that shows a magnified 3D image of your retina. This method helps your doctor see if your retinal layers are distorted. They can also see if swelling is getting better or worse if you had treatment with injections or laser.

Fluorescein angiography. In this procedure, your doctor injects a dye into a vein in your arm. They take photos as the dye reaches your eye and flows through the blood vessels of the retina. The images will show new vessels or vessels that are leaking fluid or blood in the macula, a small area at the center of your retina.