The best test for macular degeneration (ARMD) is a fluorescein angiogram (FA). The fluorescein angiogram involves the injection of a dye (not iodine based) called fluorescein. As the fluorescein dye travels through your retina, pictures are taken which may help your doctor diagnose macular degeneration.
In most instances, a retinal specialist performs an FA. It is a diagnostic test used mainly for the diagnosis and treatment of retinal diseases.
In addition to macular degeneration, an angiogram may be helpful in cases of retinal vein or retinal artery occlusions, diabetic retinopathy, macular edema, etc. In cases of macular degeneration, a fluorescein angiogram is integral in distinguishing wet ARMD from dry ARMD.
With respect to macular degeneration, the test should be performed at baseline and then if there there are any changes in vision. For instance, if a patient has a loss or change in vision including new distortion.
Many patients receive anti-VEGF injections of Avastin, Lucentis or Eylea for control of the wet ARMD. A fluorescein angiogram is very useful in monitoring treatment for wet ARMD.
Patients with drusen or a questionable case of ARMD should obtain a fluorescein angiogram. This will help differentiate those patients with “normal” drusen versus patients with early macular disease.
What Does This Mean?
A fluorescein angiogram is integral to the diagnosis macular degeneration. It is the single best test to make a new diagnosis and to also monitor treatment.
The test is fairly easy to obtain…from a retinal specialist. In my practice, this test invaluable for the diagnosis and management of ARMD. It is especially helpful for patients in whom the diagnosis is suspect, or, in patients given the diagnosis, but have perfectly normal vision.