Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the macula, which is the central part of the retina that contains light-sensitive cells responsible for sharp central vision. AMD is very common among people age 60 or over and is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in the US. Patients with AMD often have trouble reading, recognizing faces or using digital devices. Fort Myers residents can have a macular degeneration test at Elmquist Eye Group.
Eye exams are important
Our trusted Elmquist eye care team uses several tests to diagnose macular degeneration. We will do a comprehensive dilated eye exam to see the detailed eye structures in the back of your retina. Our doctors look for signs of AMD and other diseases as well as optic nerve damage. Regular eye exams are crucial for patients over age 60 and for younger patients, too. If you are age 45-60, we recommend dilated eye exams at least every two to three years, and every year if you are over age 60. Many patients have a genetic predisposition to AMD, so these exams are very important for prevention and early detection of AMD. The earlier we can detect signs of AMD, the earlier we can administer treatment to protect your precious vision.
Other AMD tests
Our physicians may also use one or more of the following tests to detect signs of AMD disease:
- Autofluorescence: we take photographs of the eye to study the deepest retinal layer to look at the function of the light-sensitive cells responsible for vision.
- Fundoscopy: a bright beam of light is focused on the eye to check for structural problems in the retina and surrounding blood vessels
- Visual Acuity Test (Eye Chart): used to measure vision from various distances
- Fundus Photography: a special custom camera is used to take pictures of the back of the eye to look for signs of AMD
- Fluorescein Angiography: this test detects blood vessel leakage in the eye
- Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT): a noninvasive test to image the retina to look at the various retinal layers
- Tonometry: a test used to measure internal eye pressure
What you can do
Quite often, we advise patients to use an at-home test called the Amsler Grid. This test can help detect gradual vision changes that may be a sign of early AMD. We also use it in patients newly diagnosed with AMD in order to monitor vision changes. The grid looks like graph paper. The test is fairly straightforward: you simply cover one eye, stare at the black dot in the center of the Amsler grid, and if the straight lines appear wavy or absent, you might have AMD. The grid is certainly not a substitute for professional eye care, but it is a great way to do at-home monitoring.
As you get older, just remember that AMD is quite prevalent among older adults, particularly those over age 75. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in this age group, so if you suspect you have AMD, come get a macular degeneration test at our Fort Myers Elmquist Eye Group location. We can help diagnose and manage the condition, so give us a call today.