How Do Doctors Diagnose Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?

Question: How do doctors diagnose age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?

Answer: Doctors diagnose age-related macular degeneration by looking at the eye. So to do that, first we check the vision of the patient to see how well they can see in each eye separately, and then we put drops in to dilate the pupils so that we can get a really good look at the retina. What we're looking for is changes that occur in the macula. So in the dry form of macular degeneration, we see deposits or drusen, little yellow dots in the macula retina. In the wet form, there can be blood or fluid under the retina, and those are the kinds of things that we look for when we look in.

If things look suspicious for any of those changes, the doctor may then go on to do some other testing and the kinds of tests we do are photographs, a test called an OCT, which uses light to look at the different layers of the retina. And then if we're worried that there are signs of the wet form or these new blood vessels, we actually do something called a fluorescein angiogram, where we inject a fluorescent dye into the vein of your arm and then take pictures as the dye travels through the retina. All of those help to sort out whether you have macular degeneration and, if so, what form and what kinds of treatment might be available.