AMD – otherwise known as age-related macular degeneration – is a common yet serious eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. It causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead. When left undiagnosed, AMD can lead to significant vision loss.  In some cases, AMD can lead to total blindness; in fact, it’s one of the leading causes of vision loss throughout the world.

In order to prevent AMD from impacting your vision, it’s important to schedule regular appointments with your ophthalmologist.  Your ophthalmologist can use a variety of diagnostic tests to determine if you’re showing early symptoms of this disease.  To help diagnose this disease, your ophthalmologist may use the following tests:

  • He or she will have you look into an Amsler grid, which is a special device that helps identify any blurry or dark spots in your lens. The appearance of dark spots is a common sign of AMD, as it represents a cluster of broken-up proteins.
  • Your ophthalmologist may use drops to widen your pupil so he or she can use a lens to look at your eyes. With this diagnostic test, your doctor is looking for those telltale cloudy spots.
  • The fluorescein angiography test can be used to see what’s occurring in the retina. Yellow fluid is injected directly into the arm, which travels to the eye and through the retina’s blood vessels.  A special camera captures an image of the retinas. Your ophthalmologist will use this photograph to determine if any abnormalities are developing within the retina.
  • Optical coherence tomography. You have probably heard of ultrasound, which uses sound waves to capture images of living tissues. OCT is similar except that it uses light waves, and can achieve very high-resolution images of any tissues that can be penetrated by light—such as the eyes. After your eyes are dilated, you’ll be asked to place your head on a chin rest and hold still for several seconds while the images are obtained. The light beam is painless.

If your ophthalmologist determines that you show symptoms of AMD, there are a variety of treatments available. Studies of a brand-new eye drop treatment have shown promising results, while the more common treatment involves injecting medicine directly to the afflicted retina.

Don’t let AMD rob you of your vision. Stay healthy into your golden years by scheduling an AMD eye exam with ophthalmologist Dr. Jacqueline Griffiths at NewView Eye Center in Reston, VA today.

NewView Eye Center serves the greater Washington, DC metro area.