Diagnosis of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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

He'll test your vision and also examine your retina -- a layer of tissue at the back of your eye that processes light. He'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, he 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. He 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. He takes 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.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Whitney Seltman on August 31, 2020



National Eye Institute. 

American Academy of Ophthalmology.

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