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Detecting & monitoring changes in vision

Detecting vision changes

If you’ve been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or you’re at risk, it’s important to ensure you’re monitoring any changes in your vision.

If you notice any sudden changes, it’s important to speak with your eye health professional (an optometrist or ophthalmologist) as a matter of urgency. It could be a sign of age-related macular degeneration.

With wet (neovascular) AMD, vision changes can be sudden and severe. If this is the case, early action is crucial to saving your sight. Prompt treatment is crucial. If you delay treatment, it increases the likelihood of permanent vision loss.

Monitoring your vision for changes

An Amsler grid is an essential and easy-to-use self-monitoring tool used to detect changes in your vision.

These changes may include distortion (straight lines appearing wavy), blurred patches or dark patches.

It’s important not to rely on an Amsler grid for diagnosis. And it’s not a substitute for regular eye examinations. The only way to diagnose age-related macular degeneration is to have an eye exam, including a check of the macula, by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

What’s an Amsler grid?

An Amsler grid is a card that shows a grid pattern with a dot in the centre. Amsler grids are available free from Macular Disease Foundation Australia. Your Amsler grid will come with a magnet on the reverse, so you can stick it to the fridge.

Your FREE Amsler grid

How to use an Amsler grid

When using an Amsler grid, it is important that you test one eye at a time. This allows potential issues to be identified in each individual eye. So, for example, if you have age-related macular degeneration in one eye only, you may not realise it. That’s because the eye with the better vision will compensate for the lack of vision in the eye with AMD.

  • 1. If you use reading glasses, you should wear them when using an Amsler grid.
  • 2. Hold the grid at your normal reading distance, that’s usually about 30cm from your face, in a well-lit room.
  • 3. Cover one eye with your hand and focus on the centre dot with your uncovered eye.
  • 4. Repeat with the other eye.

If you see wavy, broken or distorted lines, or blurred or missing areas of vision you may be displaying symptoms of AMD. Contact your eye health professional immediately.

You must get prompt treatment to save your sight.

It’s important to note that if you have already been diagnosed with AMD, you’ll be monitoring for changes in what you usually see. Is it more blurred than usual? Do the lines appear more wavy than usual? Are missing areas of vision larger than usual? If this is the case, early action and prompt treatment are crucial to saving your sight.

How often should you use an Amsler grid?

If you are over the age of 50, monitor your vision with an Amsler grid weekly. If you have been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, use the Amsler grid daily.