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How is age-related macular degeneration (AMD) diagnosed?
A doctor can usually detect AMD by doing a regular eye exam. The doctor will ask about your symptoms, past eye problems, and other health conditions.
You may have some vision tests.
A visual acuity test. This checks your central vision. During this test, you cover one eye and read letters on a wall chart 20 ft (6.1 m) away. Central vision gets worse over time in a person who has AMD, and a visual acuity test can measure whether your vision has become worse since your last exam. The doctor may also test your visual field, which includes both your central vision and side (peripheral) vision.
Ophthalmoscopy. This lets your doctor look inside your eye to check for signs of AMD, such as drusen, which appear as yellowish white spots under the retina. Although some small drusen can usually be found in the macula as a normal result of aging, the presence of numerous large drusen is associated with AMD.
An Amsler grid test. This can detect wet AMD. If you have wet AMD, lines on the grid appear wavy or curved instead of straight. Or you may see a blank spot or hole on part of the grid.
Other tests include:
An eye angiogram or an optical coherence tomography (OCT) may be given to find out if abnormal blood vessels are growing beneath the macula. These tests are used if your doctor thinks that you may have wet AMD. The tests can also locate leaky blood vessels under the macula and help your doctor find out if they can be treated.
A low-vision evaluation may be done if you have AMD and some loss of vision. It can help find ways for you to make the most of your remaining vision and keep your quality of life.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all people ages 40 to 54 have a comprehensive eye exam every 2 to 4 years to help detect AMD early. The following table summarizes the recommendations for comprehensive eye exams.