Using the Amsler Grid to Test for Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. An estimated 10 million people in the U.S. suffer from either wet or dry macular degeneration. In both types of cases, the root problem is that the central part of the retina is deteriorating. As this central eye part deteriorates, your vision will be reduced until you can be considered legally blind. There are many other problems that can cause vision loss, and your eye doctor may decide to use the Amsler grid test to see if your vision problem is caused by macular degeneration. Here is how the Amsler grid eye test is used to measure your vision.

The Amsler Grid

The Amsler grid is made of vertical and horizontal lines on a sheet of paper. At the center of the grid is a dot or square that the test taker focuses their eyes on. The lines can be either black on a light background, or dark on a light background. Each grid forms a perfect square.

There will also usually be two red dots outside of the grid on the edge of the paper.

How to Take the Test

You will be asked to sit straight up in a chair and put on your reading glasses if you have any. The doctor will give you an index card or some other device to hold over one of your eyes. This is done so you only focus on the center of the grid with one eye. Using both eyes to focus on the dot or square tends to skew the results since the strong eye will compensate for deficiencies in the weaker eye.

Place the index card over your eye and move the sheet of paper toward you until you can't see one of the red dots on either the side of the grid. This ensures you have properly positioned the Amsler grid to effectively take the test. Focus on the center of the grid with your one eye.

You will be asked to pay attention to the vertical and horizontal lines on the grid while still staring at the center of the grid. The doctor wants to know if you see any waves, blurring, or blind spots on the grid. All of these are potential signs of advancing macular degeneration.

After the Test

Your doctor will typically do more advanced tests before diagnosing you with having a case of macular degeneration. However, the Amsler grid test can easily alert you to a serious eye condition that merits immediate medical attention. If you think you might be suffering from macular degeneration, don't hesitate to contact local eye specialists such as Spectacle Shoppe, Inc.