The first line of defense for macular degeneration is awareness. A simple test of your vision will alert you to any changes that may indicate a problem with macular degeneration or a worsening of your condition. This common test is known as the Amsler Grid.
The Amsler Grid looks like graph paper, with dark lines forming a square grid. Some versions have white lines on a dark background. You can download a copy for printing here.
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 treatment, when indicated, is 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.
Here’s how to use the graph below:
- Wear your reading glasses, if you normally use them and sit about 14 inches away from the screen.
- Cover the left eye.
- With the right eye, focus on the dark dot in the center of the grid.
- While looking at this dot, you still should be aware of the lines of the grid. Notice if any of the lines are distorted or broken or if there are blurred areas.
- Now, cover the right eye and repeat the test.
- If you notice any blurred, wavy or missing lines, contact your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
If you are in “the macular generation”, you should check yourself on the Amsler Grid. But remember that it is a “gross” test and may not catch early vision loss. You should see your eye doctor every year or two for a dilated eye examination.
The “Face” Test
Another way to easily test your vision is just waiting for you in your bathroom mirror. The key to catching vision problems is to look with one eye at a time, because when both eyes work together, they can hide a vision problem.
Every morning, simply look at your face in the mirror. Cover your left eye with your hand and focus on your face. Then switch, covering your right eye with your hand so you’re looking at your face with the left eye. If you notice any central blurring or missing parts, contact your doctor for an eye examination.