Macular Degeneration Diagnosis

Although macular degeneration cannot be cured, when caught early there are ways to delay its progression and stave off vision loss. The internationally respected team of doctors at California Retina Associates are extremely well-versed in the signs and symptoms that can suggest macular degeneration. Using advanced tools and technology, our retinal specialists can diagnose macular degeneration and confirm how advanced it is. Based on the findings of these tests and what type of macular degeneration you have, we can promptly take steps to mitigate the effects of the disease on your vision.

Dilated Eye Exam

If you are experiencing symptoms of macular degeneration or you are at a high risk of developing the disease, we will want to get a clear look inside your eyes to look for changes in your retina or macula. We will do this through a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

First, your eyes will be dilated with special drops to widen your pupil. Then we will use a special lens to look at the inside of your eye. We are primarily looking for the presence of drusen, or tiny clumps of cell waste that develop on the surface of the retina, as well as pigment changes within the macula.

Amsler Grid

The Amsler Grid is a tool commonly used in macular degeneration diagnosis. The design of the grid helps identify blurry or blank spots in the field of vision. It contains a square with a grid pattern and a dot in the middle.

To a normal, healthy eye, the lines of the grid look straight. But to an eye affected by macular degeneration, lines or areas of the grid can look blurry, wavy, dark or blank. The Amsler grid is meant to be looked at with one eye covered.

Other Tests

There are a few other types of tests that we use to help us diagnose macular degeneration.

One of the tests we use is called fluorescein angiography. We will inject a special dye into a vein in your arm, and it will travel through your bloodstream to the tiny blood vessels of your retina. The dye illuminates the blood vessels, and photographs are taken. These images can help us look at blood flow in the retina and detect problems like the growth of abnormal, leaking blood vessels. The test takes about 20 minutes.

We may also perform fluorescein angiography later in the follow-up process to help us chart the progress of any treatments we have performed.

Another imaging technique we use in the diagnosis of macular degeneration is optical coherence tomography, or OCT. We use light waves to capture cross-sectional images of the retina. We can measure the thickness of the retinal layers and look for things like drusen, new blood vessels and hemorrhaging. The findings of OCT can help guide us to recommend the most suitable macular degeneration treatment options. The OCT process takes about 15 minutes.

Contact California Retina Associates

If you have experienced changes in your vision that may indicate macular degeneration, you should be screened by our team of doctors. Please contact California Retina Associates, serving San Diego and beyond, to make an appointment at one of our offices.