How To Tell if You Have Macular Degeneration

How To Tell if You Have Macular Degeneration

What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?  Most patients have blurry vision and distortion.  Macular degeneration is usually a bilateral disease (both eyes are involved) and is progressive, thus, symptoms are usually in both eyes and progress over time.  The symptoms of blurry vision usually are persistent (they don’t come and go) and occur gradually.

Symptoms of patients with the “wet” or exudative form are slightly different and develop faster.   Patients with wet macular degeneration may develop distortion and blurry vision in terms of weeks rather than losing visiong over months or years.  In no case do patients go blind overnight. Unlike the dry form, patients with wet macular degeneration may complain of a dark, central grey spot.

What is the Amsler grid used for? An Amsler grid is used to self monitor.  It can be placed in a common area in the home such as a refrigerator door or vanity mirror in the bathroom.  Testing/ monitoring should be done frequently, perhaps daily.  It is ideal in patients that already have some mild distortion.  New, persistent distortion should be reported to your doctor.

When to call the doctor? If you notice a change in vision, including distortion, that is persistent, I recommend calling your eye doctor and scheduling an appointment.  Symptoms that are transient (come and go during the day) are less likely to be related to the retina, but if concerned, you should call your doctor.


Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retinal Specialist

  • Joe Long
    Posted at 17:56h, 21 August Reply

    Dr. Wong…thanks for breaking some of these terms down for us. I am currently using an Amsler grid to monitor my problem and so far I remain in the ‘no change’ category. – j.

  • Judy Logan
    Posted at 17:10h, 24 January Reply

    Dr. Wong,
    What is non- macular drusen?

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 08:16h, 26 January Reply

      Dear Judy,

      Drusen are basically white spots within the layers of the retina and are most often associated with macular degeneration.

      If the drusen are outside, or away from, the macula (the functional center of the retina) then they are “non-macular.”

      Non-macular drusen are usually of no concern and not related to macular degeneration.


  • Gent
    Posted at 17:08h, 21 January Reply

    Hi, Doctor. I have an astigmastism Myopia I am a -3 Myope does this mean I have Macular Degeneration?

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 13:57h, 23 January Reply

      Dear Gent,

      No. Astigmatism and myopia have nothing to do with macular degeneration.


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