There are two worrisome signs that a patient with macular disease is having signficant problems; sudden and persistent decreased vision and/or distortion. Patients with macular degeneration, wet or dry, need to monitor their vision regularly in hopes of catching and treating any progression of the disease.
Traditionally, patients were sent home with an Amsler grid. It is basically a piece of graph paper with a central point of fixation. It has been recommended that the Amsler grid be placed on a the home refrigerator or bathroom area; common areas passed frequently during the day. Patients should test themselves once a day, first covering one eye and then the other. If the grid looks the same (albeit with some distortion) as the previous day, then not to worry. If a slight change is perceived, for instance, there is a slight bit of distortion, and it persists for more than a day or two………….off to the doctor!
This is, in my opinion, the best way that a patient can self-monitor. In my experience, there has been little value for a patient routinely going to the eye doctor. If there are new symptoms, then prompt attention is warranted. If there are changes in the Amsler, and the changes are persistent, then make a quick trip to the eye doc.
Lastly……………. our methods and treatments are so much better than even 5 years ago! We can now do a lot to restore and, sometimes, improve your vision!
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Retinal Specialist, Ophthalmologist