Diagnosis & Testing of
Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Early detection, diagnosis, testing and treatment are the keys to preventing vision loss from Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). As with many eye conditions and diseases, it is often possible to detect early signs of macular degeneration during your regular eye examination. Therefore, scheduling regular eye exams is an excellent way for The Eye Care & Surgery Center doctors to make an early diagnosis of macular degeneration.
It is also important that you become familiar with the symptoms that may indicate the early presence of macular degeneration. If at any time you experience “distortion” or “twisting”, “shadowing” or “bending” of objects in your vision, you should schedule an appointment at The Eye Care & Surgery Center immediately. Be sure to let the receptionist know that you are experiencing these symptoms.
If you are over the age of 40-45 and you have a family history of macular degeneration, we recommend that you have a thorough eye examination, including a dilated retinal evaluation, regularly. Please be sure to tell our staff if you have a family history of macular degeneration.
During your eye examination, eye drops will be put in your eyes to dilate your pupils in order to carefully examine the macula and retina using various types of instruments and sources of high magnification.
The Amsler Grid Test
Tests that we may perform to further evaluate the macula during your eye examination can include checking your color vision and an Amsler Grid Test. The Amsler Grid Test helps identify distortion of your central vision, and may be a subtle indication of swelling or fluid under the Macula.
Although the Amsler Grid Test appears relatively simple, it is very useful in detecting small changes in your vision that can result from the accumulation of just a minimal amount of fluid under your Macula. We may ask you to take an Amsler Grid home and use it to check for slight changes in your vision. If this is necessary, the doctor and staff will supply you with an Amsler Grid and detailed instructions on how to use it.
If, during your examination, we detect any signs of Macular Degeneration or believe that you may be at risk for Macular Degeneration, we may schedule you for additional testing with The Eye Care & Surgery Center Retina Specialist.
In order to most precisely diagnose macular degeneration, we may find it necessary to have detailed color photographs of your macula and retina taken. It may also be necessary for you to have a Fluorescein Angiogram (FA). To prepare you for a Fluorescein Angiogram, eye drops will be placed in your eyes to dilate your pupils. Then a fluorescent dye, called Sodium Fluorescein, will be injected into a vein in your arm. Do not be concerned, as this will not cause you to be uncomfortable. The dye will begin to circulate after about 10-15 seconds. At this time a series of photographs will be taken in rapid succession using a high-speed digital retinal camera as the dye passes throughout the retinal blood vessels. From these pictures, if present, the doctor will be able to see any fluid leakage or new blood vessel growth beneath the retina. The FA will also show any changes or damage to the macula and retina and the extent of the changes.
Most important, Intravenous Fluorescein Angiography gives us a great deal of information regarding whether certain types of treatments such as Lucentis® Injections or Eyelea® Injections might help stabilize your vision and prevent vision loss. Today, thanks to the advances in treating Wet Macular Degeneration, if caught early, it may be possible to avoid suffering significant vision loss.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
At The Eye Care & Surgery Center, we use the most advanced computer imaging technology in order to make the earliest and most accurate diagnosis of macular degeneration. Our Retinal Computer Imaging system is called OCT or Optical Coherence Tomography. The OCT uses a method called “optical coherence tomography” that is capable of creating digital images of the Retina and Macula through the use of special beams of light in order to create a contour map of the Retina and Macula and detect microscopic changes in thickness or the accumulation of fluid beneath the retina or macula. This technique is similar to the CT Scans used to study organ systems and tissues throughout your body.
The goal of OCT Retinal Computer Imaging is to give us the ability to detect the slightest change in retinal or macular thickness in order to diagnose macular degeneration at the earliest possible stage. This will give us the best opportunity to stop the progression of the disease and preserve your vision. We perform OCT Computer Imaging right in the comfort and convenience of our office at The Eye Care & Surgery Center.