A: Ophthalmologists use the following tests to diagnose AMD and confirm its stage of advancement. As AMD is incurable, early detection is essential to prevent vision loss.
Comprehensive Dilated Eye Exam. A dilated eye exam assesses your retina, including the macula. Dr. Conlon can perform this exam and observe any changes in the back of the eye, looking primarily for the pigment changes in the macula, and the presence of drusen.
Drusen are one of the most common early signs of AMD. Drusen are tiny clumps of lipid waste deposited at the bottom of the retina. They do not cause AMD, but are linked with AMD development.
Amsler Grid. Often used in AMD detection, this grid identifies vision loss areas. The square-shaped grid consists of vertical and horizontal lines, aligning to form perfect squares. A patient focuses on a large dot in the middle of the grid. If the grid appears distorted, blurry, wavy or broken, this is an indication of AMD. Repeating this test is useful in follow-up, to monitor the progression of AMD.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). This technique captures cross-sectional retinal images using light waves. These images measure retinal layer thickness, and identify drusen, new blood vessels and hemorrhaging. Ophthalmologists use OCT to diagnose macular degeneration and to identify the most suitable treatment options based on the findings.
If necessary, Dr. Conlon can also refer patients to a retinal specialist for more extensive testing, including Fluorescein Angiography, which identifies specific leakages.