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