Macular degeneration: What tests will your ophthalmologist do?

In order to diagnose and treat age-related macular degeneration – AMD for short – in good time, it is important to have an early check-up.

With AMD, early detection is key: In the early stages, the retina can still be treated very well and the progression of the disease can be restricted.

An ophthalmologist’s examination for the early detection of AMD helps to discover and treat possible symptoms. Those affected can be helped much sooner and more effectively with therapy at an early stage. The progression of the retinal disease is monitored closely at regular appointments.


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Tests to diagnose AMD

The tests that must be done to diagnose macular degeneration don’t take long. The ophthalmologist will usually use the following diagnostic steps for you:

  • Eye test – How good is your eyesight? In the first step, an eye test is carried out and the general function and vision of the eyes are tested.
  • Amsler grid test – are there any changes in the field of vision? The Amsler grid test is used to determine early changes in the retina. As a patient, you can also perform the Amsler grid test on the screen.
  • Slit lamp – are there already any deposits or pigment shifts? The fundus is visually inspected with a slit lamp. This examination is done to discover coarser deposits on the fundus of the eye (drusen) and pigment shifts.
  • OCT – Layer image of the middle of the retina – What is the situation of the macula? To assess the situation of the macula, a slice image of the center of the retina is taken. The non-invasive examination is carried out using optical coherence tomography, the so-called OCT. With the help of OCT, the individual retinal layers are shown in detail.

A look at the so-called “Amsler grid” can give the first indications of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Examination of changes around the macula

Fundus photography to inspect changes in the macula – If the preventive examination reveals that there are changes in the macular area at the fundus, a fundus photograph is recommended for better documentation of the findings and to assess the further course of the disease. Changes that speak in favor of fundus photography are, for example, drusen or pigment shifts.

Examinations when wet AMD is suspected

Classic fluorescence angiography – The examination enables the ophthalmologist to visualize the vascular fundus. It is much more accurate than a fundus photograph and gives very precise results. Fluorescence angiography is also used to identify new vessel formation.

OCT angiography – This form of diagnosis enables the ophthalmologist to take a non-contact ultra-wide angle picture that depicts the entire retina, so changes in blood vessels within the peripheral retina can be seen. This gives the ophthalmologist the opportunity to gain very good information about possible changes at an early stage.