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Macular Degeneration

How Is AMD Diagnosed?

Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 14:12

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

The doctor will take your medical history, ask about changes in your vision, and check your eyesight. Then you will get tests that can detect not just AMD, but other eye problems such as glaucoma and retina detachments.

The doctor will give you eye drops that enlarge, or dilate, the pupil of the eye. Dilating the pupils gives the doctor a larger opening to view the inside of the eye. He or she then will use instruments to look into your eyes and examine of the retina for signs of AMD.

One of the first signs of AMD are tiny deposits, called drusen, that form under the retina. An ophthalmologist will look for drusen, abnormal blood vessels, leaking blood vessels, and other changes in your retina.

The doctor also may ask you to look at an Amsler Grid, a checkerboard-like pattern of lines. If the lines appear curved or distorted, it may be a sign of early AMD.

If the doctor suspects wet AMD, he may do a test called fluorescein angiography. It involves injecting a natural yellow plant-based dye, called fluorescein, into a vein in the arm. The doctor then takes special photographs as the dye flows through the network of tiny blood vessels in your retina. Flourescein makes these blood vessels visible and helps identify vessels that are leaking blood or fluid into the macula. The photographs pinpoint location of abnormal blood vessels, and serve as a guide for treatment.

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